Protect yourself from identity theft
I have really embraced the convenience of online shopping this season. I’ve found that many of the items that I’m after are cheaper online (amazon.ca has knocked everyone else out of the park this year for me). All this activity underscores an important point though. There is far more to smart shopping than finding a good deal.
Being cognizant of protecting yourself against identity theft should be a major component of your personal finance management. You can balance your budget to keep your credit in good standing- but an invasion into your financial (and personal) life can level a devastating blow on all counts. And it is usually one that you don’t see coming.
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information (name, addresses, social insurance numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card and banking information, bank cards, calling cards, birth certificates and/or passports. People can use these usually for the purpose of their own (illegal) financial gain, through the fraudulent opening of credit or deposit accounts- in your name.
Keep it to yourself
One way to reduce the likelihood of your personal info falling into the wrong hands is to share it only when absolutely necessary. Don’t give your important identification numbers to people (i.e. don’t write them on cheques) or let other people write them down.
Wherever possible, decline to divulge your SIN number at all. Chances are that there is another identification number that will suffice.
Don’t have cheques delivered to your home unless you have a secure mailbox, or can have it done via registered mail.
By the same token, don’t leave cheques lying around the house, especially if you have people in and out (i.e. babysitters, housecleaners, handymen, etc.). There are loads of honest people out there, but there are those that are dishonest- and if they are in your home unsupervised, the opportunity is there. And if that is their intention, they won’t think twice.
This actually happened to a friend of mine- and it was a bit of a nightmare getting everything back on track.
Don’t throw personal documents (anything with your name, address or any identification numbers or financial information) in the garbage whole.
Invest in a home shredder (these are inexpensive) and destroy these docs before they go out.
Make a habit of checking your credit balances regularly, just to monitor activity and make sure that everything adds up.
Check your credit bureau now and then just to make sure that everything is accurate. It’s not advisable to check your credit bureau often (as it lowers your credit score) but once in a while would be worth it. You can also make note on your credit bureau for them to verify with you any usual activity (i.e. a flurry of credit requests all of a sudden).