The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are providing the public with some tips and resources in the event that a wallet or purse has been stolen. This will help deter Identity theft in the future and will provide information that will be able to assist in the event that this happens.
Maybe you never opened that account, or ordered an additional card, but someone else did, someone who used your name and personal information to commit fraud. When an imposter uses your name, your Social Insurance Number (SIN), your credit card number, or some other piece of your personal information for their use without your knowledge, it’s a crime, pure and simple.
Signs of Identity Theft
The signs can be many, but typical indicators that your identity is being used include:
- A creditor informs you that an application for credit was received with your name and address, which you did not apply for.
- Telephone calls or letters state that you have been approved or denied by a creditor that you never applied to.
- You receive credit card statements or other bills in your name, which you did not apply for.
- You no longer receive credit card statements or you notice that not all of your mail is delivered.
- A collection agency informs you they are collecting for a defaulted account established with your identity and you never opened the account.
If you have been a victim of identity theft, the Identity Theft Statement helps you notify financial institutions, credit card issuers and other companies that the identity theft occurred, tell them that you did not create the debt or charges, and give them information they need to begin an investigation. Make as many copies of the Statement as you will need to notify all affected companies. You will need Acrobat Reader to view the statement.
To obtain a copy of the Identity Theft Statement select this link to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Website and select the link “To print a copy of the Identity Theft Statement”.
If you suspect that your personal information has been used and misappropriated to commit fraud or theft, take action immediately and keep a record of your conversations and correspondence. The following basic actions are appropriate in almost every case.
- Start a log of dates, person(s) that you spoke with and exactly what they said.
- Contact the fraud departments of each of the two major credit bureaus. Equifax: (800) 465-7166 and Trans Union: (800) 663-998. Request that a “Fraud Alert” be placed in your files. At the same time order copies of your credit reports.
- Contact the fraud department of creditors for any accounts that have been opened or tampered with fraudulently. This may include credit card companies, phone companies, banks and other lenders.
- File a report with your local Police or the Police in the community where the identity theft took place.
- Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is currently central sourcing all pertinent information on Identity Theft to identity trends and patterns, information is also used to assist law enforcement agencies in possible investigations.
Remember: There is no reason to be paranoid; there’s just reason to be careful. If someone wants desperately to target you, they can probably get a lot of information about you, so you just need to minimize the criminal’s opportunities to get that information. You can make yourself a harder target and that’s the best defense. If you are a victim, do not panic, you will not be out any money. The losses will be attributed to the banks and or companies associated with the fraud.
Minimize the risk
While you probably can’t prevent identity theft entirely, you can minimize your risk. Identity theft is on the rise and it can happen to anyone. It can happen to you. By managing your personal information wisely, cautiously and with an awareness of the issue, you can help guard against identity theft.
Tips to reduce risk of Identity Theft:
- Before you reveal any personally identifying information, find out how it will be
used and if it will be shared.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive
- Guard your mail. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your
local post office. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery. Ensure
mail is forwarded or re-routed if you move or change your mailing address.
- Put passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily
available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four
digits of your SIN or your phone number.
- Minimize the identification information and number of cards you carry.
- Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the
internet unless you have initiated the contact or know whom you’re dealing with.
- Keep items with personal information in a safe place. An identity thief will pick through your garbage or recycling bins. Be sure to tear or shred receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements and credit offers you get in the mail.
- Give your SIN only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.
- Don’t carry your sin card; leave it in a secure place.