Every night, millions of Canadians lock their doors, and maybe even turn on home-alarm systems, to protect their loved ones and valuables But many of us also should also know how to be protected from fraud and those who want to steal our identity.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported that it received more than 25,000 identity theft and identity fraud complaints from January through November last year. And according to a November 2015 study by Equifax Canada, more than half of us are more concerned about identity theft today than we were a year ago.
How does identity theft occur? You become vulnerable when identity thieves steal your personal information – either from your trash, mailbox or, more commonly, online. That personal information could include bank and credit card statements, tax forms and other documents containing account information, social insurance numbers or your date of birth.
Fraudsters can also infect your computer with a virus program, called malware, capturing your web browsing and key strokes, which they then use to access your financial information.
Phishing and vishing are two ways that can be used to trick you into divulging personal information. In phishing, thieves send you a seemingly legitimate email with links to a bogus website, which may look like your own financial institution’s website. The fake link could also resemble a commercial or government Internet site. The website will then prompt you to enter information such as your personal identification number (PIN) or other account passwords.
In vishing, you’d be called directly by the fraudsters to alert you to a false problem with, for example, your bank account. You’d then be asked to use the telephone keypad to enter your account numbers, PINs or passwords, which are then recorded for fraudulent use. With this information, identity thieves could use your name to take out a new loan or line of credit, apply for and receive credit cards, or take money out of your chequing or savings account. You may only discover this has happened when a financial institution asks you about transactions you did not authorize.
Learn to protect your personal information at home, in public places, on the phone and online.
If you become a victim, write down when you noticed the fraud and the actions you took to address it; file a report with your local police; contact the affected financial institutions; inform Canada’s two credit-rating agencies, TransUnion and Equifax; and contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
– News Canada