No one wants to wake up and find out that money has disappeared from their bank account, or that their credit card has been used for purchases they did not make. But, this is a reality that many Canadians have experienced.
An ill-intentioned person can steal your identity and access your personal finances. There are a variety of ways they might do this, whether by accessing your information online, by phone, by mail or other means.
Fraudsters are especially looking for personal information such as your name, address, bank or social insurance account number, date of birth or personal identification number (PIN). To prevent identity theft and fraud, keep your personal information in a safe place by taking steps such as:
- Avoid opening e-mails or clicking on links that you find suspicious.
- Shred your mail and documents containing your personal or financial information before throwing them out.
- If you change your address, inform your financial institution and the post office. You can also redirect your mail to your new address to make sure that your change of address works.
- Do not save your credit card numbers and passwords online.
If you think you’ve been scammed and suspect that you are the victim of identity theft or fraud, or you have unwittingly provided your personal or financial information to a fraudster:
- Change your passwords immediately and replace them with secure passwords.
- Regularly review your bank account and credit card statements to make sure there are no suspicious transactions. If in doubt, contact your financial institution.
- Order and carefully examine your credit report and check for anything unusual.
An individual with access to your accounts can, among other things, steal your money, apply for a personal loan, order a credit card, open a line of credit, and even apply for a mortgage in your name. Each of these possibilities could have a negative impact on your reputation with lenders.
If you are the victim of identity theft or fraud
- Contact your financial institution and your credit card company.
- Contact Canada’s two credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, and ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit report file.
- Report the fraud to your local police and file a report on the incident.
- Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Find more information at canada.ca/money.