It is almost impossible to not do at least part of your daily life without being online. With everyone online the question of “Am I Covered For Identity Theft?” becomes more important. The truth is that identity theft is becoming easier for it to happen and requires more diligence from us to prevent it. Here’s the 101 on identity theft including what it is, how you can protect yourself and what to do if your identity has been stolen.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when someone other that you steals information about you uses assume your identity for the purposes of an illegal activity. The activity could be anything from applying for a credit card in your name to using your identity to defraud a person or organization. Information that’s most commonly sought by identity thieves includes:
- Driver’s licence
- Social Insurance Number
- Credit card information
- Bank Card PIN
- Medical Information
Here are some examples of how your information might be used:
- Emptying your bank account
- Getting credit cards in your name
- Obtaining passports by duplicating your information
- Receiving social assistance in your name
- Get a drivers licence in your name
- Have prescriptions made in your name
- Use the information for access to restricted locations
How do I protect myself?
The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is very appropriate here. . Always be vigilant when dealing with your finances and shield your PIN at ATMs, check your billing statements, and be wary of shady internet sites or telephone calls requesting payment information. If you doubt the validity of someone contacting you through the internet or phone, take a step back and call that organization yourself to verify the request.
Also, don’t carry around important documents in your purse or wallet. They’re safer in a secure place where they aren’t being exposed to open environments. When the time comes to get rid of any of those documents (or any other personal or financial information), never throw it in with regular trash. Instead, make sure all documents are shredded so thieves can’t reuse them.
What do I do if my identity is stolen?
If you think that your identity has been stolen, do not wait to find out. Do the following ASAP.
- 1 Call the local police department. Make sure you get a report number for future reference.
- 2 Call your bank and your credit card company. They can investigate any transactions immediately and issue new card numbers.
- 3 Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Call the two national credit bureaus of Canada:
- 4 Make a report to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Toll-free: 1-888-495-8501. This government service collects information and criminal intelligence on fraud and works towards prevention and awareness.
Does my insurance cover identity theft?
In many cases, identity theft is automatically covered by your home, condo or tenant insurance. In the instances where it is not you can usually add to your policy for a small cost. This covers you and anyone else on your policy in case your identity is stolen. Certain fees and expenses for replacing legal documents are covered up to a limit. Often, you’re even covered for lost wages during the time it takes to sort the issue out. Check with your insurance policy for more details on your coverage.