With the recent news of the Windsor Police Service seeking an Identity Fraud Suspect, the BBB serving Western Ontario is urging citizens to safeguard their privacy. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information (social insurance, credit cardnumber, etc.) without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. Identify fraud has been described as the fastest growing crime in the nation.
Last year thousands of adults became victims of ID theft. Young adults aged 18-24 are among the last to detect identity theft when compared to other age groups. It took them 132 days on average to spot it, and their average loss was roughly five times more than the amount lost by other age groups.
The BBB recommends that you take thefollowing seven steps to fight 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 orally, check to see who might be listening. Don’t regularly carry your Social Insurance card. Also, don’t have your Social Insurance Number printed on your driver’s license or cheques.
· Don’t carry your birth certificate, passport, or extra credit cards, except when necessary.
· Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on the weekends. Deposit outgoing mail in Canada Post collection boxes. You mayconsider installing a locking mailbox.
· Important documents should be stored under lock and key. This includes your Social Insurance Card, passport and bank and credit statements. Shred credit card offers and any paper documents that have sensitive financial information, rather than just tossing them out.
· Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Always install any updates and patches to your computer’s operating system or browser software, which help keep your computer safe from any advances by identity thieves online.
· 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 out unfamiliar websites with the BBB. Look for the BBB Accredited Business Seal along with other trust seals; click on the seal to confirm it is legitimate.
· Check your credit report at least once a year. You are entitled to one free report a year from each of the reporting bureaus; TransUnion and Equifax. Look for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies. False credit reports could affect your ability to receive a student loan.
For more advice on fighting fraud and managing personal finances, visit www.westernontario.bbb.org or call 877-283-9222