Online Identity Theft in Canada

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Online identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in Canada. Anyone who spends time online will need to safe guard that their identity is not stolen. Identity theft is common for criminals looking to commit fraudulent crimes. It involves the theft of personal information such as credit card numbers, social insurance numbers and other personal information. Criminals can then use this information to impersonate you to access and open bank accounts, transfer bank balances, apply for loans, credit cards and other goods, and even obtain passports and other government identification pieces.

Victims of online identity theft will often have financial loss and difficulty obtaining credit or restoring their previous credit. Although some credit card companies may protect up to $500 of fraudulent activities, it can take years to clear up.

The following steps may help you to avoid having your identity stolen:

  • Be weary of phishing websites (those that pose as a legitimate business website). These websites may ask for your social insurance number online, financial account information, driver’s license or passport identification. Only give your information to secure and trusted websites.

  • Do not store usernames, passwords, online banking account numbers or credit card numbers in a non-secure location (such as a laptop or a piece of paper).

  • Install and use security software (firewall, anti-virus and anti spyware software) so your personal computer is not hacked.

  • Choose difficult to guess passwords.

  • Closely monitor your credit cards and financial institution accounts for transactions – review for any activity or charges you did not make.

  • Be cautious opening emails from unknown persons.

  • Shred documents containing personal or financial information before discarding them.

  • Be aware of current internet scams.

  • Be weary of posting too much personal information via social media (where you live, what car you drive.

  • Secure your wireless network (hackers will not be able to view your website usage).

If you become a victim, immediately contact the police to file a report, contact your financial institution and contact the national credit bureau to place a fraud alert on your credit report. To help eliminate identity theft, always report fraudulent activities and identity theft to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center.