Identity Theft & Safety Tips

This past weekend all the snow proved to be too tempting for the rest of my family, so as they built snow forts with the neighbours, I took Christmas decorations down and watched the local news program.  One of the features for Global TV BC was a segment on safety, with the Coquitlam RCMP giving their ‘Top 8 Safety Tips for 2008’.  Included was how to protect yourself against identity theft, and how to use the computer in a manner that doesn’t expose your financial information.  The story is worth reading.

When it comes to identity theft and fraud, we are all at risk.  Yes, even people like me.  Just last summer my bank account was accessed and several hundred dollars vanished.  Turns out my bank card was skimmed and copied in a debit-card scam.  After making a police report and notifying my bank, an investigation began, my account was reimbursed, and I changed all my banking information.  I was a bit put off by the whole experience because I’m always careful about protecting my pin and where I use my debit card, but it proved to me that no one is immune.

Identity Theft, which is much worse than having your debit card skimmed, strikes its victims at their core.  Someone pretending to be you gains access to your personal information such as date of birth or social insurance number, and then applies for bank credit, loans and even credit cards.  The Government of Canada has a very good information page about Identity Theft with tips on how to prevent your identity from being stolen, and what to do if you suspect your identity has been compromised.   Their site is a wealth of information on how to protect yourself – I’ve taken a read through it and learned a few things.

Of all the suggestions and tips from the above linked sites, the one thing I have to recommend is this – get a paper shredder and use it.  I’ve got one, and anything destined for the recyling bin with any personal information attached (receipts, credit card applications) gets zipped through it.  You don’t have to spend very much, and an investment of even twenty dollars now might later save you hundreds of dollars and a major headache.

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3 Responses to "Identity Theft & Safety Tips"

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