Calgary identity theft ring sparks BBB consumer warning to protect personal information

  
     
March 20, 2014

March 20, 2014 – CALGARY, ALBERTA – After a Calgary family has been charged with stealing the identities of nearly 20 consumers and racking up nearly $56,000 in Home Depot credit card charges, BBB is urging Calgary residents to safeguard their personal information.

According to the Consumer Sentinel Network, identity theft was the number one complaint category of 2013, with over 290,000 complaints across North America. More than 49,000 of those were credit card fraud complaints.

Sandra Crozier-McKee, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, says anyone can be a victim of identity theft. “It can be as simple as saying the wrong thing at the wrong time with the wrong person within earshot,” she says. “Everyone should try to make it as difficult as possible for scammers to access their data. If you’re unsure about how to protect your information, check with your BBB for trustworthy fraud prevention consumer tips.”

BBB offers these tips for avoiding identity theft:

  • Safeguard your Social Insurance Number. If asked for it, don’t automatically give it. Ask how it will be used. Before providing it verbally, check to see who might be listening. Don’t carry your Social Insurance card with you. Also, don’t have your Social Insurance Number printed on your driver’s license or cheques.
  • Don’t carry official documents regularly. Your birth certificate, Social Insurance card, bank statements, passport, or extra credit cards should be kept in a secure, locked location and only taken with except when necessary.
  • Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on the weekends. Deposit outgoing mail in Canada Post collection boxes. You may consider installing a locking mailbox.
  • Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Always install any updates to your computer’s operating system or browser software, and make sure your firewall is turned on.
  • Always check your credit or debit card statements closely for any suspicious activity.  The sooner you identify and report any potential fraud, the less you’ll suffer in the long run.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year.  Check your credit score with TransUnion or Equifax.  Look for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies that could affect your ability to receive loans or other financial aid.
  • Check with BBB. Verify suspicious websites and businesses by looking for BBB Accredited Business Seal. Also check BBB Business Reviews online.

For more consumer tips, visit bbb.org. 


Media Contact:

Leah Brownridge
Marketing Communications Coordinator
Email: leah@calgary.bbb.org
Phone: (403) 531-8793

About Consumer Sentinel Network: CSN is a secure online database of consumer complaints available only to law enforcement. The Council of Better Business Bureaus, consisting of all North American BBBs, is a major contributor of complaint data. CSN also collects information from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and numerous other contributors.

About BBB:

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, founded in 1954, is one of 112 local, independent BBBs across North America.

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