How To Prevent Identity Theft

This article was written by Linda Rainaldi of the People?s Law School with funding assistance from the Law Foundation of BC.

Identity theft is on the rise. ?Identity theft is the use of someone else?s personal information for a fraudulent purpose,? advises lawyer Lisa Jung. Thieves can obtain personal and financial information about you by getting your credit card or PIN number in various ways.

There are ways, advises Jung, to prevent identity theft:

?Do not keep extra credit cards, social insurance card, birth certificate, etc. in your wallet except when necessary.

?Take your credit card receipts with you ? never throw them in a public trash bin.

?Do not let your credit card or debit card be swiped out of your sight. The card might also be swiped into the thief?s own machine to get your personal information.

?Never give credit card, bank or social insurance information over the telephone unless you can verify that the call is legitimate.

?Carefully review all your bills to ensure that the charges are yours. (There have been many cases where a new utility account, for example, was opened in someone else?s name.)

?Memorize your passwords and PIN so they are not recorded anywhere.

?Make sure no one is watching you input your PIN.

?Keep your financial information in a safe place so you can locate it quickly if you need to inform the issuers or police about missing or stolen cards.

?Be particularly careful about your social insurance number ? it is only necessary to provide it to some agencies for income reporting purposes

A credit file is created when you first borrow money or apply for credit. In turn, banks, finance companies, and retailers regularly provide information to credit reporting agencies who keep a current file on your financial transactions and borrowing activity.

Jung suggests that you access your credit report once a year to ensure that it is accurate. If someone has fraudulently opened an account in your name, your credit file will show your bad credit rating. There are two credit bureaus that can provide this information: Equifax (1-800-278-0278) and TransUnion Canada

(1-800-663-9980).

Lisa Jung is a lawyer with the LawLINE Program at Legal Services Society of BC.The purpose of this article is educational in nature. It is not intended as legal advice. It offers general information only. If you have a legal problem, you should seek professional advice.