As part of Cyber Security Awareness Month, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) believes greater awareness can help prevent consumers from becoming victims of fraud through identity theft.
Typical identity theft cases include situations where government documents - such as drivers' licences, health cards, Social Insurance Number (SIN) cards, and birth certificates - have been unlawfully obtained or forged.
Criminals can use your stolen identity documents to:
· access your computer and email accounts;
· access your bank accounts, open new bank accounts, or transfer bank balances;
· apply for loans, credit cards, and other goods and services;
· make purchases;
· hide their criminal activities; and,
· illegally obtain passports or receive government benefits.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), in 2016 there were 9,481 complaints of identity theft in Canada. Of those complaints, victims were identified and their combined financial losses exceeded $12 million.
The consequences of having your identity compromised can have lasting effects on your life, including potential employment, individual finances and credit ratings, and your dealings with government and other agencies.
To better protect your identity:
Be wary of unsolicited emails, phone calls, or mail asking for personal or financial information;
Be aware of creditors or collection agency calls about an application or account you do not have; and,
Shred all personal and financial documents.
If you think you have been a victim:
Check your bank and credit card statements and report any suspicious activity;
Report any missing mail or statements right away; and,
Call your financial institution to suspend your accounts.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft or identity fraud, contact your local police service or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).