Identity theft occurs when someone obtains personal information such as your name, address, date of birth or other personal identifiers such as a Social Insurance Number, driver’s license number, credit or charge card number, telephone number or other account number without your consent. Identity thieves are able to use this information to open credit accounts, bank accounts, telephone service accounts, and make major purchases—all in your name. This information can also be used to take over existing accounts or to open new accounts. Identity theft can result in damage to your credit rating and denials of credit and job offers.
How do thieves steal your identity?
There are many ways through which criminals can get access to your personal information. The following are some examples:Dumpster diving
One evening, you sit down to pay your monthly bills. You write the cheques, toss the statements in the trash and put the container out on the curb for the morning's trash pick-up. While you sleep, "dumpster-divers" go through your trash looking for the papers you've thrown away. They discover a gold mine of information that can be used for fraudulent purposes-your name, address, phone number, utility service account numbers, credit or charge card numbers, and your Social Insurance Number.
American Express Tip: When disregarding any unwanted materials, ensure your full name, address, SIN, credit or charge account numbers, date of birth, and employment information are destroyed. Be sure to also review and destroy all automatic banking machine receipts, credit or charge card statements, and insurance documents.
You receive an e-mail message from what appears to be your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The message requests that you update the information they have on file about you-your name, credit card number, bank account number, etc.-by replying to the e-mail or going to a specific web site address to provide the information. However, neither the message nor the web site address is from your ISP. They belong to someone who wants to get your information to steal your identity.
American Express Tip: Always consider whether the company would be likely to ask you for the kind of information being requested. If you are at all in doubt about the authenticity of the communication, contact the company by phone and talk to a representative. If you receive an e-mail relating to American Express that you believe could be fraudulent, immediately forward it to email@example.com. Please do not include your account number in the e-mail. If you feel your American Express account information has been compromised, please contact American Express immediately by calling the number on the back of your Card.
You sit down in front of the computer to do some shopping on-line. You type in the internet address of a company's website and then begin adding items to your shopping cart, once satisfied you check out to purchase your online items. You begin entering your personal/payment information, not knowing that the website criminals have actually accessed the company's database and re-directed Internet traffic to a replica website. Identity thieves then use the acquired personal information to access your real accounts.
American Express Tip: Using your Card online is safe and convenient as long as you follow a simple rule. When shopping online, only use "secure" web pages when you enter your Card details. A web page is secure if there is a locked padlock in the lower right-hand corner of your browser or if the address starts with 'https', where the 's' stands for secure. Also, it is your responsibility to practice safe computing (e.g. encryption, virus scanning software, firewall, anti-spyware software and other similar safeguards)
You receive a phone call from someone who claims to be contacting you from your financial institution. They speak to you about your accounts and personal information in a way that suggests they must be legitimate. However, this person is actually an identity thief who has uncovered some information about you and is looking for more.
American Express Tip: Try to minimize the personal information you give over the phone. When you provide personal information, inquire how the information is being used. If you are in any way doubting the identity of the representative on the phone, do not give out any personal information and contact the company immediately to confirm whether or not this was an authorized call.