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Identity Theft ‑ It could happen to you
Convenience and risk - identity theft; it could happen to you! The threat of identity theft is real, and it can take months or years to recover once you become a victim. It can have a big impact on your future such as financial implications and in some cases on a more personal level. Recent research shows that 21% of the respondents to an ECAR study have had an online account hacked, and 14% have had a computer, tablet, or smartphone stolen. Here are some tips to help prevent identity theft:
- Read your monthly statements carefully. Review bank, credit card, and pay statements, as well as other important personal accounts (e.g., health care, social security). If a statement has mistakes, charges you don't recognize, or doesn't arrive when expected, contact the business.
- Shred outdated documents. Make sure you shred any documents that show sensitive financial or medical information before you throw them away.
- Be careful when sharing personal info. Avoid responding to pop-up ads, e-mails, texts, or phone messages that ask for personal information such as your Social Insurance Number, password, or account number. Legitimate companies don't ask for information in this way.
- Protect your online accounts. Create strong passwords or passphrases that are at least eight characters long and include a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Don't use the same password or passphrase for multiple accounts.
- Limit use of public Wi-Fi. If you must use a public wireless network, make sure it is fully encrypted before sending sensitive information. Save your most sensitive browsing and work for when you are in a place where you know the Wi-Fi is secure.
- Keep personal information private. Limit what you share on social media. For instance, don't share your vacation pictures publicly until you return home (so thieves don't target your empty home).
- Review your credit report every year. You may not know this but you can request a free annual credit report.
If you've been a victim of identity theft:
- Create an "Identity Theft Report" by filing a complaint with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
- Use the "Identity Theft Report" to file a police report. Make sure you keep a copy of the police report in a safe place.
- Flag your credit reports by contacting the fraud departments of any one of the major credit bureaus:
Equifax Canada 1-800-465-7166 or
TransUnion Canada 1-877-525-3823
For more tips, information, and details please visit the Information Security area on the ITS web site.
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