Protect Your Identity And Your Credit
Identity Theft is one of the fastest growing means by which Criminals can fraudulently obtain money without fear of being caught. No risk and no consequences.
Your Identity is assumed, credit card applications are made, new bank accounts are opened, NSF cheques are written, in your name and utilizing your good credit history.
You are bewildered and left to straighten out the mess; you will have to convince the Credit Card Companies, probably the Police and many other Agencies that you were a Victim of Identity Theft and not responsible for the string of debts that have been left owing in your name. To make matters worse, every time you apply for new credit you will be questioned about the previous bad history and even though it is not your fault, you will be treated as though it was.
With the advent of the Internet which allows Computer Hackers access to private and confidential databases of Financial Institutions, and with Employees from major Companies which have possession of thousands of Personal files selling information to Organized Crime; you the Consumer had better ensure that your Personal reputation has not been sullied by the criminal acts of Impersonation, Theft and Fraud.
TIPS to Protect Your Identity
- Consider looking into services such as LifeLock, who keep a consistent eye on your personal information and alert you about any questionable activity
- Do not divulge Personal or Financial information over the phone when you are in receipt of the telephone call or in response to an email, particularly in response to an unsolicited email, which should be treated as bogus and deleted.
- Do not throw any material in the garbage that has any of your Personal or Financial information on it, without shredding or cutting it up first.
- Do not deposit mail into a remote postal drop; thieves/criminals are stealing mail from these sites and using the information obtained for fraudulent purposes.
- Do not carry numerous credit cards with you when you know that you are only going to use one. Keep the rest locked up where no one else has access to them, including family members.
- Immediately report the loss of I.D. and/or other Personal information to the Police and the appropriate Authorities. i.e. the Credit Bureaus, Motor Vehicle Branch, Credit Card Companies, your Financial Institutions, etc.
- Debit Card skimming is the latest form of fraud and theft from Consumers bank accounts. Automated Teller Machines are compromised by Criminals that illegally obtain Client information from debit cards. The more enterprising Criminals purchase their own Automated Teller Machines and install them in grocery stores, gas stations etc. There are no regulations with respect to who can buy, install and operate these machines. This is like handing over a template to print money to criminals. It is strongly recommended that only Automated Teller Machines at known Major Financial Institutions are used. In British Columbia, Canada in excess of 1.2 million dollars was siphoned from hundreds of Bank accounts over a weekend; when members of an Organized Crime Group were able to obtain information from debit cards by installing their own electronic surveillance equipment in various Financial Institutions after business hours that captured the information and P.I.N.s from Client Cards.
- Never lose sight of your debit card and never allow it to be swiped in two different machines at the same location. One machine will be used to record information from your card and it will usually be located under the counter. Retailers should not have their debit machine under the counter. Better yet, ask to swipe your own card. That way you maintain possession of it. Gas Stations, Restaurants, Corner Grocery Stores and Small Independent Retailers are the more common locations where this sort of incident will occur.
- Everyone should check their Credit Report with a major Credit Bureau at least once a year. This due diligence process allows you to find out what is on your credit file and you can ascertain if and why someone is making enquiries about your credit. If someone other than you is applying for credit in your name, you will be able to tell by the enquiries that have been made. No one is allowed to enquire about your credit history without your authorization. If there are inquiries that you have not authorized it may be someone checking out how much credit is available to you prior to stealing your Identity. Obtaining a copy of your credit report could assist in preventing fraud by advising the Credit Bureaus that someone may be fraudulently attempting to obtain credit by impersonating you. The Credit Bureaus can add a warning to your credit file for your protection.
Visit these web sites for further information on Identity Theft: