Identity Theft and What It Looks Like
In this day and age, you can’t be too careful when it comes to your personal information. Identity theft is a growing concern for Canadians of all ages and rightly so. Are you familiar with identity theft and what it looks like? Do you know what to do when your information has been compromised?
What Is It?
At the heart of it, identity theft occurs when someone takes your personal information with the intent to use it for a criminal purpose. This information includes your full name, address and phone number, in addition to credit card and banking particulars, Social Insurance Number and even your Drivers License or Passport information. Consequently, any combination of information, can be used to make an application for credit or loans in your name.
What It Looks Like.
It can show up in a variety of ways. However, with this in mind, there are several red flags that you should be aware of.
- You’re no longer receiving statements by mail from your lenders or financial institution…and you have not switched over to paperless billing.
- You don’t recognize all of the purchases on your credit card statement.
- You are informed of an approval or rejection for a credit product that you never applied for.
- A debt collector contacts you for a debt that is, in fact, not yours.
- Your credit report shows accounts that you didn’t open or inquiries from unfamiliar lenders or businesses
- You have received a bill with your information on it for an account you never opened.
Ways They Get Your Information
To get you to part with your information, there are techniques that run the gamut between high and low tech:
- Stealing your mail. Pre-approved credit card applications, bank/credit card statements, replacement identification/credit/debit cards.
- Skimming, phishing or hacking through digital means. That means shady websites or emails.
- Phony job ads that require your personal data as part of the application process.
- Dumpster diving for statements or receipts that you’ve thrown out.
- Stolen/Lost wallet/purse/bag.
- Misdirected mail.
Your Information Has Been Compromised – What’s Next?
- Call all of your financial institutions and credit card providers. Cancel your cards and make them aware that your identity has been stolen.
- Call the police and file a report.
- Contact TransUnion and Equifax to make them aware that your identity has stolen. Get an up to date copy of your credit report from both agencies. Have a fraud alert placed on your credit file with BOTH agencies.
- If the fraud involves your mail, contact Canada Post.
- File a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
- Any government or ministry issued identification needs to be reported to the issuer along with a request for replacement ID.
How To Avoid In The Future
- Ensure that you do not walk around with your birth certificate, Social Insurance Number or Passport. In other words, they are best kept safely at home, under lock and key unless required for something specific.
- File a formal change of address with all of your lenders/financial institutions and Canada Post.
- Always let your creditors and bank know if you have lost your credit card or debit card. Furthermore, you can make arrangements to pick up replacement bank issued cards from your home branch.
- Review your bank and credit statements. Report any transactions that you do not recognize.
- Always shred your statements and documents before disposing of them.
- Get free copies of your credit report every year and report any errors or unfamiliar activity.
In conclusion, identity thieves will make the most of any angle they can find. Your information is worth a lot of money in the wrong hands. Protect yourself by knowing what to look for and the steps to take should you find yourself a victim.
At PYLO Finance Inc., we want you to know how to recognize identity theft and who to contact to minimize the damage. Our team is available if you have questions about how to contact the proper authorities.