Identity theft is a crime where criminals impersonate individuals, usually for financial gain. In today’s society, you are often asked to reveal personal bits of information about yourself, such as your Social Insurance Number, your signature, name, address, phone numbers, and even banking and credit card information. If a thief is able to access this personal information, he or she can use it to commit fraud in your name. With this information the thief could do things such as apply for loans or new credit card accounts. They can then request a billing address change and run up your existing credit card without your knowledge. They can also use counterfeit cheques and debit cards, or authorize electronic transfers in your name, to empty your bank account.
Identity theft can also go beyond just monetary impact. Thieves can use your information to obtain a driver’s license or other documentation that would display their photo but your name and personal information. With these documents thieves could get a job and file fraudulent income tax returns, apply for travel documents, file insurance claims, or even provide your name and mailing address to police and other authorities.
Report a Lost or Stolen Card
To report a lost or stolen card, call us at 1-800-567-8111, or if outside of North America call us collect at 1 (306) 566-1276 (collect).
Using Information on the Internet for Identity Theft
Regardless of how a thief obtains your information, the outcome of identity theft is usually the same. The Internet is continually providing new ways for people to steal your personal information and to commit fraud. Thieves can get your personal information in several ways, such as using Internet chat rooms and spreading Trojan horses that drop key loggers on your computer to transmit passwords, usernames and credit card numbers you use on your computer. Many online businesses today also store personal information about customers and shoppers on their Web sites, and that information is used when a person returns to the Web site. This is just another opportunity for your personal information to be accessed.
Phishing (fish´ing) (n.)
This is the act of sending an e-mail to a user, while falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise, in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, Social Insurance Number, and bank account numbers. The Web site, however, is an illigetimate duplicate which has been set up only to steal the user’s information.
For example, 2003 saw the proliferation of a phishing scam in which users received e-mails supposedly from eBay claiming that the user’s account was about to be suspended unless he clicked on the provided link and updated the credit card information that the genuine eBay already had. Because it is relatively simple to make a Web site look like a legitimate organization’s site by mimicking the HTML code, the scam counted on people being tricked into thinking they were actually being contacted by eBay and were subsequently going to eBay’s site to update their account information. By spamming large groups of people, the “phisher” counted on the e-mail being read by a percentage of people who actually had listed credit card numbers with eBay legitimately.
Phishing, also referred to as brand spoofing or carding, is a variation on “fishing,” the idea being that bait is thrown out with the hopes that while most will ignore the bait, some will be tempted into biting.
What is “Skimming”?
Debit card skimming is when your debit card information and PIN have been stolen without your knowledge. For a fraudster to be able to use your card, they must have both the card information and your PIN. That’s why it is imperative that you protect your PIN.
How Can I Protect My PIN?
There are different ways that fraudsters use to try and identify your PIN. They can “shoulder-surf” you, or stand behind you while you input your PIN for a legitimate transaction. They may also have installed a camera on or near the equipment you are using, so they can capture your PIN as you input it. Regardless, there are several ways that you can protect your PIN and deter debit card fraud:
- Use your hand, body or wallet to shield your PIN when you are conducting transactions at an ATM or at a point of sale location;
- Never let your debit card out of sight when conducting a transaction at a point of sale location;
- Be aware of how many times someone is swiping your card. If your card appears to have been swiped more than once, especially on different machines;
- Always remember to take your card and transaction receipt with you upon completion of an ATM or point of sale transaction;
- If your debit card is lost, stolen or retained by an ATM, notify your LVCU branch immediately upon becoming aware of the problem;
- NEVER disclose your PIN to anyone;
- Memorize your PIN and change it immediately or have your card cancelled if you believe someone knows your PIN; and
- When selecting your PIN, never use obvious information such as date of birth, phone number, SIN, address or children’s ages.
- Regularly check your bank statements and balances to verify all transactions. If entries do not accurately reflect your transactions, or if there are either additional or missing transactions, this could indicate that someone has skimmed your card and accessed your account. Contact Lake View Credit Union immediately.
How to fight Identity Theft
- Minimize the risk; be careful about sharing personal information or letting it circulate freely.
- When you are asked to provide personal information, ask how it will be used, why it is needed, who will be sharing it and how it will be safeguarded.
- Give out no more than the minimum information required to do your transaction, and avoid having all your personal identification on you (like having your Driver’s License AND your passport in your purse). Be particularly careful about your SIN; it is an important key to your identity, especially in credit reports and computer databases.
- Don’t give your credit card number on the telephone, by electronic mail, or to a voice mailbox, unless you know the person with whom you’re communicating or you initiated the communication yourself, and you know that the communication channel is secure.
- Take advantage of technologies that enhance your security and privacy when you use the Internet, such as digital signatures, data encryption, and “anonymizing” services.
- Pay attention to your billing cycle. If credit card or utility bills fail to arrive, contact the companies to ensure that they have not been illicitly redirected.
- Notify creditors immediately if your identification or credit cards are lost or stolen.
- Access your credit report from a credit reporting agency once a year to ensure it’s accurate and doesn’t include debts or activities you haven’t authorized or incurred.
- Whenever possible, ask that your accounts require passwords before any inquiries or changes can be made. Choose difficult passwords — not your mother’s maiden name. Memorize them and change them often. Don’t write them down and leave them in your wallet, or some equally obvious place.
- Key in personal identification numbers privately when you use direct purchase terminals, bank machines, or telephones.
- Find out if your cardholder agreement offers protection from credit card fraud; you may be able to avoid taking on the fraudulent debts.
- Be careful what you throw out. Burn or shred personal financial information such as statements, credit card offers, receipts, insurance forms, etc. Insist that businesses you deal with do the same.
If You Suspect You’re a Victim of Identity Theft
- Report the crime to the police immediately. Ask for a copy of the police report so that you can provide proof of the theft to the organizations that you will have to contact later.
- Contact legitimate credit reporting companies (such as Trans-Union and Equifax) and provide them with information regarding the breach of your personal information.
- Document the steps you take and the expenses you incur to clear your name and re-establish your credit.
- Cancel your credit cards and get new ones issued. Ask the creditors about accounts tampered with or opened fraudulently in your name.
- Have your credit report annotated to reflect the identity theft. Do a follow-up check three months after to ensure that someone has not tried to use your identity again.
- Close your bank accounts and open new ones. Insist on password-only access to them.
- Get new bank machine and telephone calling cards, with new passwords or personal identification numbers.
- In the case of passport theft, advise the Passport Office.
- Contact Canada Post if you suspect that someone is diverting your mail.
- Advise your telephone, cable, and utilities that someone using your name could try to open new accounts fraudulently.
- Get a new driver’s license.
If you suspect that someone has been using your SIN to get a job, or that your SIN has been compromised in some other way, contact Service Canada at:
Social Insurance Registration Office
P.O. Box 7000
Bathurst, New Brunswick E2A 4T1
To find out more about your privacy rights, call the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada toll-free at 1-800-282-1376, or write:
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner
112 Kent Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 1H3