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Rubina Ahmed-Haq

Personal Finance Expert

Always Save Money

Protect Your Financial Information


March is Fraud Prevention month and I’m so proud to have teamed up with Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and their partners to promote my tips on how to protect your financial information.

It’s important to know that identity theft is the most serious, non-violent crime and the fastest growing type of fraud in North America.

In a study done by Fellowes Canada 18 per cent of Canadians say they have been, or know a family member or close friend, who’s been a victim of identity theft.

It’s important to make sure your financial and personal information isn’t getting into the wrong hands. Here’s my tips to keep you safe.

Leave unnecessary cards at home

One of the best ways for fraudsters to steal your personal financial information is to get their hands on your Social Insurance Number (SIN). This along with your name and address can help them build what looks like a legitimate identity and then use it to take loans or sign up for credit cards in your likeness. 

You can avoid this by leaving most of your sensitive information at home. There’s no need to regularly carry your SIN card, your birth certificate or your passport. Even items like health cards can be left at home unless you’re planning a doctor’s visit.  Also only carry the credit card you use on a daily basis. Wallets can be stolen or lost, don’t make a situation like that even worse by giving thieves full access to your most sensitive information.

Shred it

We get a lot of sensitive information in our mailbox and often we don’t dispose of it properly. We might rip a document in half and throw it into the recycling bin. That’s not good enough.

A good rule: if it has your name and address on it - shred it. 

Fellowes has a line of shredder you can check out here. They are your first line of defense against document-based identity theft. Some of these shredders are powerful enough to deal with old credit cards, CD’s loaded with information and DVDs. There is no excuse to throw anything important into the trash.

It’s also important to know that curbside garbage is considered public property. Think of all the sensitive information about you that could be in your garbage right now.  Documents such as (but not limited too) monthly credit card statements, paystubs, monthly bills, pre-approved cards and even spam.

You can escape all of this by going paperless and avoid creating a trail fraudsters can follow.

If you insist on getting paper bills, know your mail cycle so you can anticipate when they regularly arrive. This way you will be well aware if a bill, with all your personal information, has gone missing.

Be careful with your PIN

Your Personal Identification Number or PIN is exactly what it’s called “personal.” Use common sense with creating a PIN. Don’t choose one that is easy to guess, like your birthday or favourite sports team. Also avoid simple combinations like 123 or password.  Pick a password, no one will guess and don’t tell anyone else about it. In addition change your password often. When it comes to looking at your financial information on line make sure you log out of the website as soon as you are done. Another tip that I like to share is do all your banking at home and at the same computer. Never use a public computer to log on to your bank or pay a bill online.  This goes for your social media logins as well.

Never give talk to an orgnaztion that called you

If you get a call that yourbill is overdue or you have pre-qaulifired for a credit card, even if you are interested, hang up, look up the offical number and call them back.  This way you know you’re talking to the right people.

If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. No bank asks you to log in using a special link, unless you requested them to send it to you and every financial institution has a fraud prevention strategy, send any phishing emails to them to investigate. If you think you may have received a phishing email, here are a few warning signs to look out for: did the email address you by name or simply by your email address? Did the email come from the organization’s official URL?

What to do if you are a victim of identity theft.

The first thing you need to do once you realize you have become a victim is report it. Here’s who you should call:

  • Your bank immediately
  • The local police department to file a report
  • Contact Canada’s main credit agencies:
    Trans Union Canada at www.tuc.ca 1-866-525-0262 (Québec 1-877-713-3393)
    Equifax Canada at www.equifax.ca (1-866-779-6440)
  • The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to report the issue (1-888-495-8501)
  • If your mail has gone missing, contact Canada Post at www.canadapost.ca (1-800-267-1177)

 

The chance of your identity being stolen is actually quite low, but if it happens to you it can take months or even years to sort out all the issues it would create.

* Survey conducted in the interest of the public by www.Fellowes.ca, 2017

*This post was sponsored by Fellowes Canada 


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