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Protecting yourself against identity theft

May 1 2017 by Multi-Prêts Hypothèques
What you'll learn
  • What scammers are looking for
  • PIN and the Web
  • Physical documents

Identity theft occurs when your personal information is used for criminal purposes. Generally speaking, this usually refers to theft and fraud. 

Criminals use many schemes, ranging from simple to sophisticated, in order to carry out their wrongdoings. Fraud can tarnish your credit history and cost you a lot of money. Consult our article to learn more about the credit report.   

To reduce your chances of falling for them, here are a few important pointers and preventive measures to keep in mind.

Information worth its weight in gold

The details that identity thieves are most drawn to are: full name, SIN, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, driver’s licence number, passport number, full address, bank account numbers, PIN, and credit card information.

Every step you take to protect this information helps reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft. 

Online fraud

Your passwords (email, social networks, cellphone, etc.) should never be made up of your name, your birthday, your phone number or other things that can easily be guessed, such as a simple word from the dictionary. Specialized software can try endless combinations of words in mere minutes. Whenever possible, passwords should be made up of a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

Under no circumstances should you share personal and confidential information through texts or emails. When making online payments, make sure it is through a secure website with an address beginning in “https://”. 

If you receive a legitimate-looking email asking you to input your password, it’s most likely a “phishing” scam trying to access your confidential information.

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Remain vigilant and, when in doubt, call upon a knowledgeable friend or family member, or a certified authority such as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. This also applies to phone calls telling you you’ve just won a prize. If claiming your prize requires your credit card and personal information, it’s probably a fraud attempt. 

Your computer should also have anti-virus software.

While it doesn’t necessarily lead to identity theft, it is highly recommended not to broadcast your vacation on social media. You might be inviting burglars into your home. Read our article for more tips on how to have a worry-free, affordable vacation! 

Your PIN

It can never be overstated: be discreet when keying in your PIN at a terminal, and never share it with anyone. If you must do so, be sure to change it immediately afterwards. Once again, be sure to choose a combination that’s not too predictable. 

Physical documents

If Internet has become the playground of choice for scammers, it doesn’t mean they’ve given up on primitive methods of gathering information, such as picking your pocket or going through your trash.

Be sure to shred documents with personal information before sending them to the recycling bin. Wipe your electronic devices (smartphone, tablet, computer) clean of any personal data before getting rid of them. When it comes to computers, destroy the hard drives. Erase all pictures from your cellphone once you’ve transferred them.

Leave your passport, social insurance card and birth certificate at home, locked away in a safe place. Avoid carrying payment cards, personal checks and other pieces of ID you won’t be using.

Vigilance and caution

Clearly, this article cannot list every action to take to avoid being a victim of identity theft. Criminals are constantly thinking up new ways to separate you from your hard-earned money.

The best advice is to remain vigilant and cautious. When in doubt, look it up online, ask a close friend or relative, or contact the authorities. 

It is important to check you credit report regularly. Read our article to learn more about how is calculated the credit rating. 

Key takeaways
  • Criminals use many schemes, ranging from simple to sophisticated, in order to carry out their wrongdoings.
  • The details that identity thieves are most drawn to are: full name, SIN, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, driver’s licence number, passport number, full address, bank account numbers, PIN, and credit card information.
  • Your passwords should never be made up of your name, your birthday, your phone number or other things that can easily be guessed, such as a word from the dictionary.