Toronto, ON (Mar. 27, 2013) – Today, the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) is reminding Ontario citizens on the dangers of identity theft and the steps they can take to prevent it from happening to them.
Identity theft is a crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way, which involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.
Every year, thousands of people become victims of identity theft. Your name, date of birth, credit card number, and especially your social insurance number can be used to open credit cards and bank accounts, obtain mortgages, rent vehicles, hotel accommodations and even secure employment. In the case of identity theft, the victim is often left with bills, charges, bad cheques and tax implications that can easily cost thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees to clear up.
IBAO recommends taking the following steps to prevent identity theft:
- Be careful about sharing personal information. Be sure to know who you are dealing with and how it will be used.
- Sign all credit cards and bank cards as soon as you receive them.
- Protect your Social Insurance Number (SIN) – it is an important key to your identity.
- Do not give your credit card number over the telephone, by e-mail or to a voicemail box.
- Immediately report any lost or stolen credit cards and any discrepancies in your monthly statements to the issuing credit card company.
- Ask that your accounts have passwords for all enquiries and do not use obvious passwords like your mother’s maiden name. Memorize your passwords, change them often and do not write them down, or leave them in your wallet. Strong passwords contain a combination of numbers, upper and lowercase text and have a minimum of 10 characters.
- Shred important documents before you throw them out.
- Avoid mail, email or telephone solicitations disguised as promotions or surveys offering instant prizes or awards designed for the purpose of obtaining your personal details including credit card numbers.
“The growing popularity of email and the internet makes it easy for companies and consumers to reach each other,” said Randy Carroll, IBAO CEO. “Unfortunately, these technologies also distribute your personal data more widely, making life easier for criminals. Be aware of the many schemes and scams that try to obtain your personal and financial information.”
The Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario is a ‘not for profit’ association that represents and serves the interests of over 12,000 independent Property & Casualty Insurance Brokers in the Province of Ontario. For information about IBAO, visit www.ibao.org or www.ibao.org/blog to receive timely news and information updates. You can also follow IBAO on Twitter or join the IBAO Facebook Fan Page.