Toronto, March 16, 2011 — Identity thieves are constantly inventing more destructive ways to obtain consumers’ personal information. Fraud related offenses have become as profitable as drug related offenses, netting $10 billion to $30 billion annually for the criminal organizations propagating the crimes according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commercial Crime Branch.
“While it is impossible to completely prevent identity fraud or theft, you can take measures to reduce your personal risk—monitoring your credit report for changes is one of the best ways to protect your identity,” says Tara Zecevic, VP Technology Services, Equifax Canada.
Consumers who are aware of the potential threats and who take preventive steps to protect their personal identifiable information are significantly less likely to become victims. 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.
Consider subscribing to a credit monitoring service like Equifax Credit Watch™. Credit Watch™ makes it easy to stay on top of changes to your Equifax Credit Report and Score by automatically alerting you of suspicious activity such as when someone tries to open credit in your name – so you can act before serious damage is done.
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 identifiable 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 Security cards or unused credit cards. Be aware of your surroundings when transacting in public. Cover your keypad and any screens that display sensitive data.
Equifax Credit Watch™ is a part of Equifax’s suite of credit monitoring and identity protection products designed to help consumers protect the power of their credit, identity and overall financial well-being. Monitoring your credit information regularly is one of the best ways to protect your identity. For more information about Credit Watch™, visit www.equifax.ca.
*Javelin Strategy & Research, 2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report
Manager, PR & Communications