Identity Theft: 5 Easy Ways to Protect Yourself
Technology allows us to connect anywhere, anytime, and with anyone. No matter where we are in the world, we can shop, control our homes, and even run our businesses. Although this technology makes life convenient, it also brings an increased risk of identity theft and internet scams.
Cyber awareness is a term we hear a lot nowadays. Cybercriminals are continually coming up with new ways to steal your personal or business information, money, and identity. It’s important to know what methods they are using and how to recognize them.
Identity Theft is acquiring and using someone else’s personal information illegally to obtain money or credit. Signs of identity theft include: bills for products or services you did not purchase, suspicious charges on your credit cards, or new accounts opened in your name that you did not authorize.
Imposter Scams occur when you receive an email or call from a person claiming to be a government official, family member, or friend requesting personal or financial information. For example, an imposter may contact you claiming to be from the Revenue Canada. The imposter will inform you that your Social Insurance number (SIN) has been suspended, in hope you will reveal your SIN or pay to have it reactivated.
Debt Collection Scams occur when criminals attempt to collect on a fraudulent debt. Signs the “debt collector” may be a scammer are requests to be paid by wire transfers or credit cards. Since 2018, there has been a spike in requests for gift cards and reloadable cards as well.
Keep Yourself and Your Business Safe
Anytime you are online; you are vulnerable. Follow these 5 tips to stay safe.
- Practice safe web surfing wherever you are by checking for the “green lock” or padlock icon in your browser bar – this signifies a secure connection.
- When you find yourself out in the great “wild Wi-Fi West,” avoid free Internet access with no encryption.
- If you do use an unsecured public access point, practice good Internet hygiene by avoiding sensitive activities (e.g., banking) that require passwords or credit cards. Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi.
- Don’t reveal personally identifiable information such as your bank account number, SIN, or date of birth to unknown sources.
- Type website URLs directly into the address bar instead of clicking on links or cutting and pasting from the email.
Victim of Cyber Attack or Fraud?
If you ever find that you or your business has been a victim of cyber-attack or fraud, contact the authorities immediately. Be sure to keep and document all evidence of the situation and its source.