Every year, many Canadians find themselves faced with the awful reality that someone has stolen their personal information. The consequences can include:
- big credit card bills
- unauthorized banking transactions
- loan or mortgage fraud
- fraudulent duplication of your passport or valuable identification documents.
Cleaning up after identity theft can be a long, expensive and stressful process. If you have been the victim of identity theft, contact the Ottawa Police Service.
There are many ways you can protect yourself from identity theft. This includes protecting your personal and banking information, and protecting yourself online:
- Always store personal information like bank account numbers and credit card details in a safe place
- Never carry your birth certificate or SIN card in your wallet
- Only give your SIN out for employment or tax purposes
- Shred all financial or other confidential documents
- Never tell anyone your bank PIN or password
- Choose passwords that are complex and difficult to guess
- Keep your computer safe by using anti-spyware and anti-virus software
- When shopping online, make sure the site you’re using is secure (begins with https://) and that you know the vendor is reputable
- Do not reply to spam emails that ask for banking information, credit card details or other personal information
You should also carefully review all bank and credit card statements. If you notice anything unusual, report it immediately. If your credit card company calls to verify a purchase that you did not make, make sure you cancel that card immediately as it means that your card number has been stolen. Be aware that your bank or credit card company will never call you and ask you for your banking or credit information. This information should always be in their records.
What to do if you have been a victim of identity theft
If you think you have been a victim of identity theft, you need to report it immediately. PhoneBusters, a Canadian anti-fraud call centre, can help you to report the crime to financial institutions, credit card providers and other companies. You should also call the police to report the crime and ask their advice on what to do next.
For more information about identity theft, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you become a victim, contact PhoneBusters at 1-888-495-8501.
Crime Reduction Canada’s Identity Theft Action Log and other resources will help you take action if you’re the victim of this type of crime, or help you safeguard against it.
Seniors and Fraud
Seniors are often targets of different types of fraud, especially schemes to obtain personal or banking information and to take their money for fake causes or programs.
The OPS has resources to help seniors understand the different types of fraud and how to protect themselves.
The ABC’s of Fraud Program of Ottawa was developed specifically for seniors. It also offers resources about the most common types of fraud against seniors, including:
- door to door sales
- illegal telemarketing
- identity theft
- Internet fraud
- investment scams
- bogus charities