Vancouver, BC - May 22, 2014 - Each year, thousands of consumers across B.C. fall victim to theft of personal information. Identity theft is the fastest growing type of fraud in North America. Once a thief has your personal information, they can max out your credit cards, drain your bank account, and ruin your credit rating.
In 2013, Canadian Anti Fraud Centre reported over $11 million loss by Canadians. The Better Business Bureau has seen estimates that identity theft costs more than $2.5 billion a year to consumers, banks, credit card firms, stores and other businesses, however this number could be higher as identity theft often goes under-reported.
In light of the most recent cyber-attack on eBay that compromised a database containing encrypted passwords and other personal consumer data, it is important that consumers are reminded to remain vigilant against the immeasurable number of ways used to steal someone's identity.
Tips to avoid identity theft:
- Protect your passwords by keeping them in a safe place. Your passwords should have at least eight characters and should contain numbers, symbols and letters.
- Memorize your passwords and PINs. Never give your PIN number to anyone and do not write it down.
- Monitor your bank account activity online regularly and notify your bank of discrepancies immediately.
- Delete unsolicited emails and never give personal or financial information by email.
- Install firewall and anti-virus protection on your home computer systems and personal information. Update these programs frequently. Update your operating system and web browser software regularly.
If you fear your personal information has been compromised:
- Immediately contact your debit or credit card issuer to report the misuse and request a new card.
- Contact the fraud departments of each of the two major credit bureaus and request that a Fraud Alert be placed in your file. Order a copy of your credit report at the same time to check for any inconsistencies.
- Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through their ID Theft Clearinghouse at www.ftc.gov/idtheft. This will allow the FTC to identify patterns associated with the unauthorized transactions and investigate the source of the data breach.
For more information and other consumer tips, visit bbb.org/mbc.
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