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Preventing Identity Theft

Steps to Prevent ID Theft

1. Secure your personal information at home and at work. Consider keeping your sensitive personal
information such as bank, mortgage, credit or charge card statements, Social Insurance card, and other documents and passwords, in a safe location accessible only to you.

2. Frequently monitor your account activity online. Accessing your account online is a great way to stay up-to-date on recent charges. American Express offers Cardmembers Account Alerts, which send you regular Balance Updates by Email or Text Messages (visit to enroll).

3. Shred documents containing your personal information before discarding them. Identity thieves have been known to “dumpster dive” to obtain discarded documents with personal information.

4. Obtain your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus once every 6-12 months. Review these reports for any inaccurate information, or any transactions that you were not aware of or did not authorize. You may wish to consider occasionally reviewing Credit Bureau Reports on your children. Identity thieves have been known to steal children’s Social Insurance Numbers in order to create fraudulent accounts as their information is not likely to be reviewed regularly.

5. When you provide personal information over the phone inquire how it will be used. Identity thieves may pose as a representative of a legitimate organization with whom you do business and may contact you to “verify” your information.  If you are at all in doubt about the authenticity of the person, contact the company by phone and talk to a representative. 
6. Avoid giving your Social Insurance Number to people or companies that you do not know.

Carry only the information you need. Only take with you the cards you need, and avoid carrying your Social Insurance card, birth certificate or passport, except when necessary.

8. Have Canada Post hold your mail if you are going to be gone for a few days or more. Since identity thieves have been known to obtain personal information by collecting an individual’s mail, promptly remove your incoming mail from your mailbox and place outgoing mail in post office collection boxes. Install a locking mailbox if mail theft is a problem in your neighborhood.

9. Create unique passwords and personal identification numbers (PINS) and avoid using easily available information such as mother’s maiden name, date of birth, or the last four digits of your Social Insurance Number. Use passwords on your banking and brokerage accounts, and update all of your passwords regularly.

For More Information

If you need further guidance, you may wish to consult the consumer affairs office of the company involved, the Canadian Better Business Bureau, or your local consumer protection agency.