Identity theft is a growing problem but there are things that you can do to protect yourself.
Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission – to make purchases, take out loans, get medical services – and more! Victims can end up with drained bank accounts, destroyed credit, and the enormous task of fixing the problem. The pieces of personal information that can be used to commit identity theft include:your name, Social Insurance Number, birth date, mother's maiden name, credit report, driver's license, and credit card and bank account numbers. It doesn’t take much to create a new identity – often just 3 pieces of information.
Tip: Answer 10 questions about your online activities to calculate your personal identity risk score. (EMC2/RSA). Discover how your online activities – from banking and shopping to the types of social networking sites you visit – may potentially make you more vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. Try the Online Identity Risk Calculator.
Identity Theft and Identity Fraud – RCMP YouTube Channel
The RCMP recommends these steps if you think you are a victim of identity theft or fraud:
- Step 1 – Contact your local police force and file a report.
- Step 2 – Contact your bank/financial institution and credit card company
- Step 3 – Contact the two national credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
- Step 4 – Always report identity theft and fraud. Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Tip – Be aware and be secure with your personally identifying information.
- Set up a schedule to review your credit card and bank statements – monthly, quarterly – and always have a ballpark in mind of your spending history
- Once you've reviewed your statements, make sure that you've shredded the paper documents that you no longer need (and keep them in a secure place while you do need them!) By shredding your bank and credit card statements, you can prevent thieves from “dumpster-diving” for the easy information.
- Set up a Google Alert for your name, business name, and other key identifiers. You will receive a listing of whenever your name appears in the internet.
- Limit the amount of personal information that you share on-line, in stores, and on the forms that you fill out. Ask why they need your information.
- Install and update anti-virus and malware protection software on your smartphone. Malware and viruses can access and steal personal information, which can lead to identity theft.
Identity theft can happen at work, too.
Waël Hassan notes in his LinkedIn Post, ‘Hacking LinkedIn: The Risk Every HR Department Should Be Talking About’ is the risk of social engineering or spear phishing hacking threats. To prevent this, Hassan recommends three steps that HR departments or managers can do to reduce the risk of spear phishing.
Establish a social media policy, or even a specific policy for business networking and job search sites. Your social media policy should establish that corporate email accounts are not to be used to create or validate social media accounts. It should also specify types of corporate information that should not be published on social media, such as project details, budgets, team members, and technologies used on the job.
Provide employees with instructions on what to do and who to consult if they suspect they have been victims of identity theft. Employees need to know that they will be met with empathy and support if this happens to them.
Review processes for documenting, reporting, and investigating cases of identity theft.
These recommendations make good business sense, too! After all, privacy is good for business.
EMC2/RSA, Online Identity Risk Calculator
RCMP Identity Theft and Identity Fraud, 2015-12-04
Waël Hassan. “Phishing Hacking LinkedIn The Risk Every HR Department Should be Talking About“, LinkedIn, Jan 6 2016.
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