According to Identity Theft Canada, ID theft is one of the most common crimes occurring in Canada today. Once a victim of ID theft, you may spend an average of $1,500 and 175 hours to get your life back in order. Even though that statistic may be alarming, with a few safety precautions you can stay one step ahead of ID thieves with the following precautions.
How Do They Do That?
ID thieves will steal your wallet, purse, laptop, pick through your mail, dig through your garbage, hack into your computer or stage email and telephone scams to obtain your personal information. They’ll stop at nothing to obtain as much personal and/or financial information about you as they can to take advantage of your likeness for their own benefit.
To thwart ID thieves, you must be diligent about protecting your personal property and information — whether it’s in your mailbox, on your person or in your computer.
- Update your virus software on a regular basis or use a firewall protection program.
- When getting a new computer, delete personal files from your old computer by using a “wipe” utility program to “clean” information off of your hard drive.
- Retrieve your mail daily from your personal mailbox or safety deposit box.
- Drop outgoing mail, especially bills and other payments, into a secure postal mailbox that locks. Do so before the last pickup of the day.
- Pay attention to when you should receive bills, as ID thieves may change your billing address so late bills may indicate a potential problem.
- When travelling, have your mail held at the post office or ask a neighbour to pick it up for you each day.
- If you move, give the new residents your new address as well as the post office.
- Do not leave important mail in an unsecured location, even if that is a place where you think things are secure, such as your desk at work.
Personal Items and Information Precautions:
- Carry only what you absolutely need in your wallet or purse, and keep an itemized list at home of what you carry. In the event that your property is stolen, you will know exactly which companies to notify to cancel and/or freeze your accounts.
- Provide your personal information to businesses on a “need to know” basis only.
- Ask your financial institution to omit your social insurance number and driver’s licence number from your checks.
- Request that account numbers or identification numbers be changed if they originally are your social insurance number.
- Write “see ID” on the backs of your credit cards instead of signing them.
- Purchase a shredder to destroy personal and financial documents that you do not want to keep.
For added protection, consider affordable Identity Theft coverage to cover the added expense of clearing your good name. Ask us for details today!