Protecting your Personal Identify
Tanglewood-Hillsdale Community Association’s Neighbourhood Watch reminds residents that the unauthorized collection and use of your personal information including your name, address, birth date, your government issued cards, or banking cards, usually for illegal purposes, is on the rise. Canada’s largest credit bureaus says every month they receive over 1800 identity thefts complains from citizens . In 2010, the guest speaker at THCA’s Recognition Day Luncheon said that related fraud cost Canadian consumers, banks, merchants & other businesses including debit and credit card firms over $2 billion annually.
While none of us personally can stop abuse of private information by others, we can be vigilant and apply common sense. If you suspect identity theft, call the Ottawa Police. Proactively you can:
- Tear Up any envelop or record with your name, address on it when it no long has a use. This includes bills, receipts including ATM receipts;as well as insurance, medical and banking statements. Consider purchasing a shredder.
- Be mindful of your wallet and/or cards holder. Keep it on or near your person
- Review what information you keep in your vehicle.
- Be mindful of placing your credit card number and security code on outgoing mail.
- Be mindful when the billing cycle for regular bills. If it does not arrive when expected, check with the billing company. Review you credit card statements to ensure there are no unexpected purchases.
- Change PIN and online passwords at least twice a year. Passwords should be a combination of numbers, and letters to achieve stronger protection.
- When entering you PIN number in ATM machines, or credit card readers when making purchases, be mindful of doing so privately.
- Ensure that you only provide personal information to real companies and not copy-cat ones. Most often is asked via email to verify information on a website that looks and feels like the real one. On-line payments would be an example. Trust your instincts if in doubt.
- Be mindful that such information as birthdates, children’s names place on social media like Facebook and Linkin can be used for unintended purposes.
- Request the credit report at least once a year to ensure accuracy. The two major companies in Canada Equifax and TransUnion will send you a free report by mail upon request.
- Keep original birth certificate, passport, licences, trade or professional credentials in a secure location.
- Keep a copy of all “cards”, certificates, credentials in a secure location.
If you are a victim:
- Cancel your ‘purchasing’ cards, and have new ones issued.
- Consider with the bank, establishing new bank accounts.
- If a passport, notify the passport office. If it is you SIN number contact Service Canada. If diverting your mail, contact Canada Post. If it is your diver’s registration or license, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
  Material for this factsheet was adapted from Neighbourhood Watch website, Ottawa Police website and the Federation of Calgary Federation of Community Associations’ Building Safer Communities Website.