Identity Theft and Fraud - Beware!
Since fraud and identity theft are very real threats in today’s society, it’s important to know what steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim. If fraud isn’t covered by your home insurance policy, you can purchase an endorsement that will help you cover the costs of restoring your identity. Let’s look at the dangers and how to deal with them!
It’s an unfortunate threat that takes many forms, from text fraud to phone fraud. So you need to be alert to the danger and discuss it with people close to you who may be vulnerable, to be sure they are aware of the risks as well. Some criminals use the ploy of pretending to be representatives of a government office that is asking you pay a fine or a bill in a very short timeframe. Before you act, contact the government office in question; more often than not, they don’t call people in connection with such matters. You can verify whether you have been targeted by a fraudster and whether you really owe any money. Fraud is not covered by your home insurance policy, so it pays to be careful.
What is identity theft?
To put it simply, identity theft occurs when one person uses someone else’s personal information for criminal purposes, such as accessing their bank accounts, opening new accounts, making a loan or credit card application, making purchases, and so on. The information most sought after by fraud artists includes your first and last names, date of birth, address, social insurance and driver’s licence numbers, credit card data, bank account numbers, and user names and passwords as well as PIN (personal identification numbers) codes.
To obtain this information, criminals will scour your garbage cans, raid your mailbox or use online tactics such as hacking and phishing. Whatever method is used, victims can suffer a range of adverse consequences: fraudulent use of their identity, substantial financial losses, and black marks on their credit record, not to mention the headache of having to restore their identity.
The ins and outs of identity theft
There are several clues that your personal information may have been stolen and used without your permission. You should be concerned, for instance, if your passwords are no longer working, if you notice unusual purchases in your account statements, if you stop receiving certain account statements by mail or email. Other warning signals include having a financing application turned down for no apparent reason and receiving credit cards you never applied for. Identity theft linked to online shopping is also becoming more common. To protect yourself, stick to websites with recognized security certificates. When shopping online, provide only relevant and necessary information. Also make sure that your computer is protected and that you have a password that is difficult to guess. Fortunately, by taking some preventive measures, you can make life difficult for identity thieves!
Various ways to protect your personal information
Careful monitoring of your bank accounts and credit cards will allow you to quickly spot any irregularities and limit the damage. Here are a few more tips for protecting your personal information:
- Take note of the billing cycles of your credit and debit cards, regularly verify your account statements and quickly advise your financial institution of any irregularities.
- On social networks, never allow access to your personal information.
- Be suspicious of any emails, calls or letters asking for personal information.
- Be vigilant when connecting to an unsecured public Wi-Fi connection.
- Use hard-to-guess passwords; avoid birth dates, telephone numbers, etc. Use special characters to make them more secure.
- Keep in your wallet only those credit cards and ID cards that you need on a day-to-day basis.
- Try to remember where you use your debit and credit cards. It could help you track down the source of a fraud.
- Shred your financial documents before disposing of them.
- Look for the padlock icon next to the URL which indicates a secure site, make sure the URL you are accessing is an official one (look at your bank card, or your official papers or statement to make sure).
- Be wary of the people around you when using an automated teller.
Most insurance firms offer an identity-theft endorsement that can be added to your home insurance policy. At belairdirect, for example, the S.O.S. IdentityTM coverage will reimburse expenses incurred as a result of identity theft for up to $25,000 per policy year and provide 24/7 assistance from expert advisors throughout the identity recovery process*. The product may vary depending on your province of residence, contact us for more information!
That should help you sleep soundly!
*This summary of the coverage is for illustrative purposes only. It is not a comprehensive overview and should not in any way be construed as a complete description of the S.O.S. Identity™ endorsement. The related services are provided by a third party.