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5 Things to Know About Identity Theft in Canada

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Identity Theft

Most Canadians hear about the gruesome stories of identity theft but take no precautions. It is a crime and can certainly dent your financial status. This blog covers everything you need to know about identity theft in Canada. Keep reading and safeguard your finances.   

1. What Is Identity Theft?   

You must have a bank account and a credit card. Only you can operate them using your valid credentials. Similarly, you might receive pension benefits from the Government of Canada just because you are eligible.   

But what if some imposter assumes your identity or steals it and starts making purchases from your credit card? You might apply for loans in your name and even get a hold of your chequing or saving bank accounts.   

That is the job of an impostor who is engaged in identity theft. Such scammers illegally get and use your personal information to gain unjustly. You rarely give any consent to such people to use your personal information. Their sole intention is to commit fraud or theft.   

Such fraudsters use many techniques to woo you and make you share your personal information. Some common tactics include sending emails, text messages, telephone calls, etc.   

2. How do You Know About Stolen Identity?   

“They have finesse in the way they operate. Being experts, they carefully misuse your personal information, so much so that you do not even get to know about it. You keep thinking it of a bank mistake, and in hindsight, the imposter keeps conning you.”    

Katherine Smith, a resident of the Greater Toronto Area, recently reported unauthorized purchases from her credit card.   

Indeed, Katherine is not alone, and cases of identity theft are on the rise in all the provinces of Canada. The trick for successful prevention lies in identifying all the indicators of identity theft at the earliest.  

Below is a list of the typical indicators that you must be wary of:   

  • You get an intimation from a bank that your credit card application has been approved or declined, but you have not applied.  
  • You recently received your credit card statement and saw that you made a few purchases not done by you. It is typical that the imposters usually steal your credit card vitals and use them for their benefit.  
  • You get informed by a bank that your loan application was successful or unsuccessful – and you never applied for any loan.   
  • A collection agency contacted you saying that you have defaulted on your account but have none with them.  

“Suspicious, fraudulent, and unauthorized transactions are the foundations of identity theft. Most scammers steal information to dent you financially and gain at your cost.,” said Katherine. 

2. How Can You Avoid Identity Theft? 

Rather than getting conned and then running from pillar to post to make amends, it is always better to take precautions. You can follow the measures below to protect your personal information:   

You must share your personal information:   

  • Only the companies that are genuine and trustworthy   
  • When you are the one who has started a transaction,   
  • You should not carry all your credit cards, identity cards, or social security numbers while going out. Instead, only have the ones relevant to the visit.  
  • You must set a complex personal identification number (PIN). It should not be your contact number, social insurance number, name, address, etc.   

Register at the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) website using the link –https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-individuals/account-individuals.html. This way, you can regularly check your personal information and ensure that it is the latest.   

Sometimes, the tax preparers turn out to be imposters. Thus, handpick your tax preparer, preferably after verifying their references.   

You can direct the person to use the “Represent a client” online service the CRA offers.  

If you have decided to part a sum of money towards charity, make sure that you are satisfied with the authenticity of the charitable organization. The CRA website allows you to check whether the charity is registered and legitimate. You can use this link – https://www.canada.ca/en/services/taxes/charities.html.  

Imposters often use emails, text messages, and other digital communications to steal information. We know this technique as phishing. Do not click to open such links.

4. What to Do If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft?

You might receive messages from your credit card issuing bank about some purchases you have not made. Or else you might get intimations about loan defaults or unauthorized bank debits.   

All this happens so quickly that you might not even get time to comprehend it. You will panic and be anxious, but that will not help. It will deteriorate your decision-making.   

So first, you must gather yourself and believe that everything happens right. There is a law, an elected government, and established rules. So, do not panic, as you may get your money back.   

5. Take the following steps at the earliest 

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  1.  
S. No. Steps to be taken 
1. Go to your nearest financial institution and police station. Intimate them about what is happening to you and file a written complaint, which explains all the events.  
2. You must contact the CRA on 1-800-959-8281 
3. You should report the scam/fraud to a credit reporting agency – Equifax or Transunion  
4. Gather evidence – Yes, maintain a file and keep a record of all the communications associated with the matter. These must include records of disputed financial transactions. 
5.  If your identity cards have been stolen, you can contact 1-800-622-6232 for complete guidance about how and from where to get these cards replaced.  
6. You should immediately contact – Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Phone Busters either by Email at info@phonebusters.com or  make a call at 1-888-495-8501 
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