They say most Canadians will do the bulk of their gift buying online this holiday season. That means for an increased risk of being somehow scammed online, including having your personal information stolen. The Ontario Provincial Police want to help you prevent that from happening, by offering up some crime prevention information and tips:
- Perpetrators of fraud prey upon the most vulnerable people in society and the impact of their fraudulent activities is staggering. The money taken is used to fuel other illegal activities, further victimizing the unsuspecting public.
- When impostors steal your name, your Social Insurance Number (SIN), your credit card number, or some other piece of personal information without your knowledge for their use — it’s a crime.
- Identity theft is fraud, plain and simple. If you or someone you know believes they have been a victim of identity theft, report it to the police or to Crime Stoppers for investigation.
- Consumers can take some basic steps to better protect themselves from becoming a victim of identity theft.
Tips to Prevent Identity Theft:
- NEVER give out personal information on the phone, through mail, or over the Internet unless you have initiated the transaction or are absolutely certain with whom you are speaking.
- Carry only the identity documents you need. For example: When was the last time you were asked to produce your Social Insurance Card? Many of us have carried it in our wallets or purses for many years. The Social Insurance Card is identification that is very useful for criminals.
- NEVER throw personal documents in the garbage without shredding them first. Identity thieves routinely pick through garbage and recycling bins. Documents to be shredded include credit applications or offers, insurance forms, and physician statements.
- ALWAYS check your bank and credit card statements to ensure that they are accurate, and make sure they arrive on time. Notify your bank immediately if the statements stop arriving at their normal time as they could have been diverted to another address by a criminal.
- NEVER give out your Personal Identification Number (PIN) over the phone or on the Internet. Financial institutions WILL NEVER ask you for your PIN over the phone or via the Internet/e-mail.
- CHANGE your passwords regularly. Use hard-to-guess passwords or a combination of letters and numbers. And never share your password with anyone.
- ALWAYS ensure you’re in a safe environment when on the internet. Look for the closed-lock or unbroken-key icons on your browser when entering your credit card number or other sensitive data. If you don’t see the unbroken key or closed lock, or if the key is broken or the padlock is open, your transaction is not being securely transmitted across the Internet.
- CLEAR your browser’s cache after visiting secure sites to ensure nobody else can view confidential information you may have transmitted.
- INSTALL and maintain a firewall to guard against unwanted access to your computer and make sure you have the latest anti-virus software installed.
- BE suspicious of spam e-mails. Criminals will use e-mails to ‘phish’ for your personal information. Do not use the links provided by ‘phishing’ e-mails. They could direct you to a criminal’s website that appears similar to that of a legitimate financial institution. ALWAYS manually direct yourself to your financial institution’s website if conducting on-line banking.
- CONDUCT credit checks on yourself periodically to ensure that your Credit Profile accurately reflects your situation and report any discrepancies immediately.”