What identity theft might do to you

identity theftThe fact that you can do nearly everything from the comfort of your easy chair (if you’ve got an internet connection and a credit card) is hugely convenient.

The downside of course is that you’re very vulnerable. You may or may not have given much thought to identity theft, but you should guard yourself against it daily- and here is why.

Big bucks

Identity theft is not some petty crime; it is a growing criminal phenomenon that leaves victims in financial distress in its wake. In Canada alone, identity thieves have racked up in the tens of millions of dollars in illicit credit and financial fraud.

Sadly, the impacts for a victim are real- and may include damaged credit that is hugely difficult to repair, being on the hook for sums of money they had no part in and being subject to higher interest rates down the road.

Buyer beware

Once that sneaky thief has their hands on your credit card number- or other bits of personal information, the sky is the limit. They might go shopping.They might change the billing address on your credit card account (meaning that you’re not going to receive these bills until they’ve racked them way up).

They might use your personal information to open up a chequing account- upon which they write bad cheques. They might set up electronic transfers to drain your chequing account dry.  It’s really scary what can happen- while you have no idea.

Don’t be a victim

The long and short of it is- don’t let yourself be a victim. Never, ever share your personal information unless you absolutely have to. Shred personal documents instead of putting them out in the trash (this means taking address labels off of magazines even).

Don’t leave things like chequebooks lying around at home (especially if you have people coming in to your home that are not your family- workers, or even kids friends- which I hate to say, but it happens). Your cheque has your name and banking info on it.

When you are online, never respond to “phising” emails that are asking for your personal information. If you are shopping, double check that the site you’re buying from is secure and encrypted.  Install virus software and block pop ups.