There are some simple steps you can take to reduce or minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
Practice Safe Internet Use
Delete spam emails that ask for personal information, and keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software up-to-date. Shop online only with secure web pages (check the bottom of your browser for an image of a lock or look for “https” in the address bar). Never send credit card numbers, social security numbers and other personal information via email.
Destroy Private Records
Tear up or shred credit card statements; ATM, credit, or debit card receipts; bank deposit receipts; loan solicitations; and other documents that contain private financial information.
Secure Your Mail
Empty your mailbox quickly and get a mailbox lock. When mailing bill payments and cheques, consider dropping them off at the post office or a secure mailbox.
Be Careful With Your Social Insurance Number
Your social insurance number (SIN) is a major target for identity thieves because it can give them access to your credit report and bank accounts. Never carry your card with you. Instead, memorize your number and keep the card in a secure place at home or in a safe deposit box. Never write or print your social insurance number on cheques.
Check Your Credit Report
At least once a year, obtain and review your credit report for suspicious activity. You can request a free copy of your report at www.annualcreditreport.com or by contacting any one of the three major credit reporting agencies.
Beware of Scams
Always be on the defensive with your private information. Never give out personal information to telemarketers or respond to emails from someone claiming to represent your bank, credit card company, a government agency, a charity, or other organization. If you think the request is legitimate, contact the company directly to confirm their claims.
Identity theft can be a serious, frustrating and time-consuming problem, but with the right preparations, you can minimize your chances of being victimized.
Article used with permission from Practical Money Skills Canada
This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It’s always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.