Tips for protecting your personal information:
- Sign up for a credit monitoring service. Credit monitoring services alert you to any major changes to your credit file. For example, if a new account was created in your name or a creditor reports a late payment on one of your accounts, you’ll receive an alert. Credit Karma offers a free service to it’s users. It uses a scoring method created by Trans Union.
- Review your credit report, not just your score. Credit reports will give you a more complete view of any credit history than your score.
- Receive alerts when your credit card is used. Most financial institutions will send you a notification via an app, email or text when your credit card is used or your account is accessed. This allows you to monitor your spending but most importantly, it gives you a real-time notification if your card is used or your account is used. When considering a new credit card, ask the lender what kind of credit protection and credit alert features they offer. Also, pay attention to any account activity alerts from other financial institutions like insurance companies or investment management firms.
- Don’t carry around any ID that isn’t essential. The RCMP’s website suggests you place any important cards in a secure place until you need them. That way you lower the risk of your cards being stolen. For example, memorize your social insurance number rather than carrying around your card.
- Alert your financial institutions and post office if you move. Therefore, your personal information doesn’t end up in a stranger’s mailbox after you’ve changed your address.
- Shred confidential documents before putting them in the garbage.
- Use a 2-step verification process when available when logging into your accounts online. A 2-step sign-in process means entering a unique security code sent to your phone or answering a security question before accessing your account. This may mean it takes an extra few minutes to log in, but it gives you extra protection.
- Don’t overshare online. Make sure your security questions can’t be easily answered by someone who follows you on social media. Experts suggest not to share anything on Facebook or any other social networks that you wouldn’t want to put on a postcard posted in a public space.
- Create an account on your computer with limited permissions and do your online shopping and banking on that account. Therefore, when you are doing online shopping, you’re not doing it with an ID that has access to everything. “That will help, if you get hit ” says Mary O’Ryan, Senior Security Governance Specialist at Sun Life.
- Be cautious of IoT (Internet of Things) devices. IoT devices such as automated thermostats, smart TVs and smart speakers are popular items these days but they include new security risks. As these devices age, their firmware may not update as frequently and if they’re set up with older types of encryption they may not be giving you complete protection which leaves you at risk for an attack.
What to do if you think you are affected by Identity Theft or Fraud:
Contact your financial institutions and then contact the national credit bureaus. Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada are the two main credit bureaus in Canada.The agencies may suggest you put a credit freeze on your account for a fee. This is helpful because it blocks anyone trying to open any new accounts in your name.
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