Identity Theft

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in North America. What is Identity Theft? It’s when an individual(s) uses your personal information, such as your name, address, social insurance number, date of birth, banking information, credit and debit cards, online passwords and your Personal Identification Number (PIN) to impersonate you for their personal gain. Personal gain could include obtaining credit cards, applying for loans, opening new bank accounts, or redirecting your mail without you even knowing it.

Identity thieves obtain your personal information by:

  • Stealing wallets and purses containing your personal identification, credit and debit cards
  • Intercepting mail to get credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers and tax information
  • Posing as an employer, landlord or a credit union employee to obtain credit reports
  • Accessing personal information from public record websites
  • ‘Shoulder surfing’ at ATM’s to obtain your personal identification number (PIN)
  • Sorting through household garbage or the garbage of businesses for personal data
  • Completing a change of address card to divert your mail
  • Breaking into your home to find personal information
  • Obtaining personal information from personnel or customer files from the workplace
  • Buying personal information from ‘inside’ sources

Identity thieves use your personal information to:

  • Open a new credit card account using your name, SIN number and date of birth. Once opened, they use the card to make purchases and don’t pay the monthly bills, and in turn, the delinquent credit card account is reported on your credit report
  • Contact your credit card issuer, pretending to be you, requesting to increase your credit limit and change the mailing address on the credit card account. The thief runs up charges on your account – because the bills are going to another address it takes some time before a problem is detected
  • Open a bank account using your name and issue bad cheques on that account
  • Obtain credit in your name such as personal loans, mortgages and credit cards
  • Establish phone or internet service in your name
  • Use counterfeit cheques or debit cards to withdraw funds from your bank account

Protect your personal identity by:

  • Only carrying the debit and credit cards you need and leave the others at home
  • Be sure to cancel any cards you do not use
  • Sign your new credit and debit cards immediately once you receive them
  • Memorize your PIN number
  • Keep your SIN number and birth certificate in a secure place and do not carry them with you
  • Do not write your SIN number on a piece of paper you plan to discard
  • Check your receipts to ensure they belong to you and not someone else
  • Verify the identity of any individual requesting your personal information or account numbers and how they will be using this information and whether or not they will be sharing it with someone else
  • Frequently contact Equifax Canada to obtain your credit report so you are aware of any changes or unusual activity (1 800 465 7166 or www.equifax.ca)
  • Pay attention to your billing cycles and if your bills don’t arrive on time, contact your creditors immediately to follow up
  • Guard your mail from theft by promptly removing mail from your mailbox after delivery. If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time have your mail held by Canada Post
  • Reduce the amount of mail you receive. Protect your banking information by opting out of paper statements and signing up for e-statements
  • Ensure your mail is forwarded when you move
  • Protect your computer with a good firewall and anti-virus software. Also utilize technologies that enhance security and privacy when using the Internet, such as digital signatures, data encryption and different ways of making the information anonymous
  • Do not post personal information on publicly accessible websites
  • Avoid online offers from websites you are not familiar with and trust
  • Create strong passwords when completing online registrations and avoid common words and don’t store your passwords on your computer
  • Shred all documents that contain your personal information

What to do in the event of identity theft?

  • Contact your Aldergrove Credit Union branch immediately if you suspect you’re the victim of identity theft and to report unusual activity on your bank account. To report your lost or stolen Member Card or Mastercard, please call:
    • Member Card: 1 888 277 1043
    • Mastercard:    1 855 341 4643
  • File a police report and obtain a copy for your records
  • Contact each credit grantor that has opened a fraudulent account to let them know you did not authorize the opening of the account and have the account closed
  • Change the PIN number on your debit and credit cards as well as the passwords for online and telephone banking access immediately
  • Contact Canada Post if you suspect that your mail is being diverted
  • Obtain a copy of your Credit Bureau report and if you see unauthorized credit inquiries contact Equifax Canada and have a fraud alert placed on your credit bureau (1-800-465-7166 or www.equifax.ca)
  • Document all contacts you make with dates, names and phone numbers
  • Review all recent transactions on your bank accounts to ensure there hasn’t been an address change request or change of PIN number

For more information on Identity Theft please contact your branch to receive a copy of the ‘Defend Yourself From Fraud’ brochure or visit Canadian Anti-Fraud Center.

 

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