Identity theft and fraud
Becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud is an anxious and stressful experience. When identity thieves gain access to your personal information, they can wreak havoc on your finances, credit and reputation. Continue reading to learn how to minimize your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission. Essentially, they impersonate you using your credentials.
Identity fraud is the actual illegal use of stolen identity information in connection with fraud.
To reduce the possibility of falling victim to identity theft and fraud, it’s always a good idea to:
Limit the amount and type of personal information you share online
Think twice before posting your contact information (e.g. name, address, phone number, email address, etc., including names of your children or family members), or other sensitive data such as your date of birth, or information that can be used to impersonate or trick you such as names of pets, dates/details of trips and vacations, etc. (If a fraudster has more details about you, it is easier for them to craft a phishing email/text or call that tricks you or those close to you into thinking it is legitimate.)
Be cautious when providing personal information over the telephone when you are in a public place
Check the privacy and permission settings on your mobile device and apps to ensure you are not allowing access to your device’s photos, contact list, location, camera or microphone
Make sure your device and computer anti-virus and other security features to detect malware are up-to-date and be cautious when downloading third-party apps or software. Read about device safety and security here
Check your balance and statements from TELUS, financial institutions, credit card and utility companies as soon as you receive them and report any suspicious activity immediately
How to identify if you have been a victim of identity theft or fraud:
You see charges on your accounts or withdrawals from your financial institution that you can't explain
You receive a text message or email from your financial institution with an account recovery PIN (Personal Identification Number) that you did not request
You stop receiving your bills or other mail, or you receive bills from an unknown credit card company or financial institution
Your mobile phone stops working for no apparent reason or you stop receiving calls or messages on your mobile or landline phones
Debt collection companies call you about debts that you did not incur or you receive collection notices in the mail
You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report
You apply for credit, loan or another service, and you are unexpectedly denied
What to do if you believe you have been a victim of identity theft or fraud:
Contact TELUS, your financial institution, credit card and any other companies that need to be aware of the identity theft. You may need to change your account numbers, passwords or PINs, and you can ask to have an alert placed on your account
Contact Equifax and TransUnion, the two main credit reporting agencies in Canada, and ask them for a copy of your credit report to review if there has been any suspicious activity. You can also ask Equifax and TransUnion to have a fraud alert placed on your file that will ensure creditors will call you before opening any new accounts or changing existing accounts
Consider changing the passwords for all your online accounts as identity thieves may try to use information gained from one account to steal information from another account