Recently we attended a Canada Mortgage and Housing seminar on identity theft and fraud and there were a number of pointers shared with us that we would like to share with you.
First of all, do not reply to any request over email (or the phone) for personal information. Often the fraudster is asking you to simply “verify” your information. They seem legitimate – afterall they already have some of your information. This is not the case at all. All they need is two pieces of information to steal your identity. If someone calls you requesting information, ask for their name and I.D. and get a call back number. This way, you can verify that the caller is who they say they are.
Job seekers are currently being targetted through popular head-hunting websites. The fraudsters can obtain your Social Insurance Number, birthdate and other important personal information from your resume. This scam preys on people who are out of work, and are eager to get an interview. The caller/emailer makes it sound urgent to get the info right away in order to get that interview set up quickly. Do not give out personal information over the internet or over the phone.
On the back of your credit cards is a CVV or Card Verification Value which is an anti-fraud method used by the issuing company to verify the user’s identity. Do not give this number out.
Regularly check your Credit Bureau Report. In Canada, you need to check with both www.equifax.ca and www.transunion.ca as you probably have two reports. By checking yearly (or more often) on your ‘bureau,’ you will be sure that fraudsters haven’t stolen your identity and caused a problem with your credit. If you DO discover a problem, immediately report it to the credit bureau and any financial institution involved.
If you don’t receive mail when you should, ie. a credit card invoice on it’s usual day or a replacement card for an expired credit card, call the company responsible right away. The missing document or card may have been stolen. Another indication of trouble is if you receive mail indicating you’ve been approved or turned down for credit for which you didn’t apply. Call the financial institution right away to report this type of mistake.
Consider keeping only copies of original documents such as your S.I.N or birth certificate in your wallet and keep the original in a safe place (like a safety deposit box.)
Over the past decade, CMHC reports that fraudsters and identity thefts have accounted for over $12 BILLION in crime proceeds–and these are only the crimes that were discovered and/or reported! Protect yourself and your family by being extra diligent with your personal information. Remember, all thieves and fraudsters need is 2 pieces of your information to take away what’s rightfully yours, be it your money, your good credit rating or your identity.
Please check out these sites for more information: http://www.antifraudcentre.ca – or to sign up for their newsletter updates: http://fraudwatchinternational.com. Examples of the latest scams are contained in either of these websites.
Marg Scheben-Edey is a Broker with RE/MAX four seasons realty limited, Brokerage in beautiful Collingwood, ON. With three decades of experience, Marg is a leader in the local real estate marketplace and is ready to help guide both Buyers and Sellers in achieving their real estate goals. Email Marg