Did you know that between 2010 and 2012, 52,309 Canadians were reported victims of identity theft? If that number doesn't shock you, then how about that for the same time period the average dollar loss increased by 75%!
It is because of these statistics that people should be taking advantage of effective, low-cost solutions for identity theft which is often available as an option under a policy of home insurance.
Here are some tips and resources to help protect yourself against Identity Theft
Never give out any personal information unless you are the one who initiated contact, whether it's on the phone or over the computer.
Keep items with personal information in a safe place. An identity thief will pick through your garbage or recycling bins. Be sure to tear or shred receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician's statements and credit offers you get in the mail.
One item you want to keep in a very safe place is your SIN card. Thieves see a SIN card as a 'golden ticket'. For that reason, don't carry your SIN card with you in your purse or wallet and don't leave it in your car.
It's not just your paper documents that thieves can get to. They can go after your electronic ones too. Be sure to destroy all electronic documents that contain personal information. Delete all personal information from all old hard drives and other storage devices before throwing them out or selling them.
Keep a close watch on your mail. If you do not receive mail you were expecting, call the company involved to check whether bills may have been diverted. Also check with Canada Post. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery and ask Canada Post to hold your mail if you have to go away.
Check to see if your credit card agreements provide fraud protection. That could save you from having to repay debts run up by an identity thief, should you ever find yourself in that circumstance.
Ask to have a password requirement for consulting or changing any information about your accounts (some examples of password requirements would be questions that you would only know the answers to like 'your favourite magazine.') Remember to make your passwords hard to guess and at least seven characters. Another tip is to use a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols (e.g. E.E0n2$).
When using the computer, use websites whose addresses start with "https" or that have a picture of a padlock on the page. This indicates that they are secure and that if you enter information on these pages it will be protected. Empty your computer's trash file every time you delete electronic personal information. Regularly delete your browser's history and temporary Internet files. Also, never use automatic login options that save your user names and passwords on the computer.
Hide your Personal Identification Number (PIN) when making a payment with your debit or credit card.
Make it a habit to look at your credit reports from credit bureaus every year, to check for accuracy and make sure they do not contain any unauthorized transactions or debts.