Almost everyone has heard about cases of identity theft. The disturbing thing is that you may hear more instances of it in the coming weeks as criminals and fraudsters are getting more creative in order to cheat honest people out of their hard-earned money in this trying time. Just a quick look at news about fraud and you’ll see cases of government program abuse, forgery, and financial fraud.
Why Fraudsters Commit Identity Theft
A huge chunk of fraud cases starts with identity theft. The fraudsters steal personal information and use that information to commit more crimes such as forgery, more fraud, and abuse of government programs. The fraudsters often only need a small amount of information such as one’s birthdate and name to steal an identity and commit crimes using the stolen identity.
Banks are very much aware of the various crimes related to identity theft and have security systems in place. They hire experts that comb through data in order to protect their customers from financial fraud. They often work with government agencies to educate consumers against fraud so that they can minimize their chances of being victims. However, this is not enough. Below are ways to know if your identity has been compromised.
Signs of Identity Theft to Watch Out For
Below are the common signs of identity theft:
- You’ve received a credit card application mail in your address although you haven’t applied for one.
- You were contacted by a creditor regarding a credit card application that you did not do.
- You’ve received bills or credit card statements for accounts that you did not apply for.
- You’ve stopped receiving credit card statements via your mail although you are not enrolled in paperless billing.
- You’ve been contacted by a creditor or a collection agency regarding a loan or account that you do not remember you have.
Best Practices for Victims of Identity Theft in Canada
If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft or have experienced the signs of identity theft described above, be sure to do the following as soon as possible:
- Contact your credit card issuer or bank right away. This step will minimize the effects of fraud in your account as the bank will usually cancel the card and investigate possible fraudulent transactions to reverse purchases or expenses that are proven not to be yours.
- Contact credit reporting agencies in Canada such as TransUnion Canada and Equifax Canada so that you can request for a copy of your credit report. You can report fraudulent information that you find this way. You can also request a fraud alert on your credit files so that nobody can apply for a credit card or take out a loan in your name.
- Contact government agencies and organizations where you think your stolen data might be used by the fraudster. Human Resources Development Canada is a good place to start if you are concerned that someone might use your Social Insurance Number to get government services.
- Contact the local police so that you can file a report.
If you are concerned about being a possible victim of identity theft and want to know more about how you can protect yourself from fraud or seek information on whether your information may have been used by fraudsters, contact us and our private investigators will be happy to assist you.