In my last blog, I talked about the various ways thieves can obtain your personal information and then shared with you signs that could indicate your identity has been stolen. Rather than having to deal with the unpleasant and time consuming issues that are sure to result from stolen identity, prevent it from happening in the first place! Here are some common sense tools to help you:
• Keep your bank card in a safe place. Never lend it to anyone.
• Protect your PIN. Memorize it. Don’t write it down or share it with anyone. Reputable companies will not ask you for your PIN.
• Don’t choose a PIN that is obvious such as your birth date or phone number.
• When using your bank card, use your hand or body as a shield so that no one can see you enter your PIN.
• After using the ATM machine, make sure you take your receipt and leave nothing behind.
• Never cash personal cheques made out to strangers.
• Keep track of your mail and know which bills and statements you should be receiving.
• Cut down on the number of bank cards and credit cards you carry with you.
• Never use your social insurance number (SIN), birth certificate, or passport unless you absolutely need to. Keep these in a safe place. Use them only when necessary such as when you are filling in your income tax, applying for a job, and/or opening an account at a financial institution.
• Shred all personal information before throwing it in the garbage or recycle bin. This includes credit card applications you receive in the mail.
• Never give personal information over the phone, in an e-mail, on a website, or by mail unless you know the company and you made the first contact.
• Avoid mail or telephone promotions or surveys offering instant prizes or awards. These may be used to get your personal information, including credit card numbers.
• Keep your computer contents safe by using a password, firewall program, and virus protection.
• Never enter you personal or financial information on a website unless you see the following:
o A padlock or padlock and keys on the bottom right hand corner of the screen; and
o An address that begins with https, not just http.
• Watch out for e-mails that appear to be from your bank, requesting your personal information (phishing). Your bank would not request your information in this way. These e-mails may take you to a website that is made to look like your bank’s website (spoofing).
• Obtain a copy of your credit history at least once a year.
Phonebusters is a Canadian anti-fraud call centre and it is an excellent resource to find out about new scams; as well as how to recognize, report and stop fraud. They can be contacted at 1-888-495-8501 or www.phonebusters.com
Remember! Being informed and aware is your best defence. It can happen to anyone, and experts say that the best protection is prevention. I hope the information has provided you with some awareness, and that you can always keep your own identity!