Toronto, July 27, 2012 — Identity thieves are constantly inventing more destructive ways to obtain consumers’ personal information. Data compromise in both private and public sectors are on the rise, as evident in the recently announced Elections Ontario privacy breach.
While it is impossible to completely prevent identity fraud or theft, consumers can take preventative measures to reduce their personal risk and may consider placing a fraud prevention alert on their credit file. This preventive alert informs creditors that the consumer’s personal information may have been lost or stolen and suggests that they validate that the credit application is legitimate. To place a fraud prevention alert on your credit file, call Equifax toll-free at 1-800-465-7166.
Consumers who are aware of potential threats, and who take preventive steps to protect their personal information are significantly less likely to become victims. In addition to placing an alert on your Equifax credit file, here are some of the easiest and most effective ways to combat identity theft:
Review your credit report regularly – Check your credit report at least once a year. For your free report from Equifax, visit www.equifax.ca.
Handle your financial accounts and transactions online – Consumers who frequently monitor their accounts online are most likely to uncover fraud the fastest.
Check your bank, credit card or other financial account web sites for suspicious or unauthorized activity.
Avoid mailing cheques to pay bills; instead pay bills online and take advantage of new remote deposit cheque imaging services and online banking sites. Install and regularly update firewall, anti-spyware, anti-virus and browser security software.
Limit the information you share on social media sites – Consumers who have used social media tools for at least five years are twice as likely to be victims of identity theft.
Never provide personal information unless you initiate the contact.
Do not click web links when responding to e-mails or text messages, rather go to the site directly.
Do not respond to automated phone messages or callers prompting you to dial a number or provide personal information to resolve a bank account issue.
Shop on secure web sites – Online retailers should display an approved security symbol and the transaction should be conducted on an encrypted site.
Reduce unnecessary access to your personal information wherever possible – Do not carry Social Insurance cards or unused credit cards. Be aware of your surroundings when transacting in public. Cover your keypad and any screens that display sensitive data.