For Immediate Release

Toronto, ON, March 21, 2017 – Criminals only need a small amount of your personal information to steal your identity. With basic information like your birth date, social insurance number and your name as a starting point, criminals can impersonate you to commit a range of further crimes – from financial fraud and forgery to real estate fraud and the abuse of government programs.

Three signs you might be a victim of identity theft:

  • You receive a phone call or letter informing you that you have been denied or approved for a loan or credit card that you didn’t apply for.
  • You suddenly stop receiving your credit card statements or other mail.
  • You are contacted by a collection agency informing you that they are collecting for a defaulted account in your name that you never opened.

What banks are doing to protect customers

Banks have highly sophisticated security systems and experts in place to protect customers’ information and to protect them from being the victims of financial fraud. Banks’ work to protect consumers is an ongoing, vigilant effort. As well, banks work closely with law enforcement and help educate consumers about steps they can take to minimize the risk of becoming a victim.

“Banks take their role in the fight against identity theft extremely seriously. There are also simple steps that everyone can take to protect their personal information from theft,” says Terry Campbell, President of the Canadian Bankers Association. “One simple tip is to limit the amount of identification that you carry with you. If you’re just going out shopping, you don’t need your social insurance card – just keep it at home in a safe place.”

Here are more tips for Canadians on protecting their personal information:

  • Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through mail or over the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or know with whom you’re dealing.
  • An identity thief will pick through your garbage or recycling bins. Shred or destroy all receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements and any financial documents before putting them in the garbage or recycling.
  • Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time.

What to do if you are a victim of identity theft

  • Contact your bank right away – Your bank will take the appropriate steps to help prevent fraud. These steps could include cancelling and reissuing credit or debit cards, investigating and reversing fraudulent transactions and providing further advice
  • Contact local police – Contact your local police force and file a report about the fraud.
  • Contact Canada’s credit reporting agencies – If you suspect that you may have been a victim of identity theft, contact both of Canada’s credit reporting agencies, Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada, and obtain a copy of your credit report. If there are creditors on the report that you have not done business with, contact those organizations and let them know you have been the victim of identity theft.
  • Consider a fraud alert for your credit files – Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada can also put a fraud alert put on your credit files. With this fraud alert, creditors that have viewed your credit report will have to contact you before extending credit. This can help prevent someone else from taking out a loan or credit card in your name.
  • Contact other organizations as necessary – Other organizations and government agencies may also need to know if your personal information has been stolen and used to commit fraud. For example, you should contact government agencies such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) if someone has used your Social Insurance Number to apply for government services.

This is the third in a series of weekly releases being issued by the CBA during Fraud Prevention Month. Previous releases have focused on phishing emails and the “overpayment scam”. In our final release next week, we will focus on the “binary options” scam.

The CBA is also issuing tips and information through Twitter (@CdnBankers) and its website www.cba.ca throughout the month of March. Canadians can also subscribe to the CBA’s free Fraud Prevention Tip.

Background

  • Identity theft is a defined offence under the Criminal Code of Canada, which allows law enforcement agencies to charge criminals with possessing the personal information of others even if they have not yet used it to commit fraud.
  • Banks take extensive steps to protect their customers’ personal information, and the banking industry has been a leader on this front for many years.
  • March is Fraud Prevention Month, and throughout the month, the CBA will be providing Canadians with information to help protect themselves from fraud.
  • The CBA is a member of the Fraud Prevention Forum. The Forum is comprised of a concerned group of private sector firms, consumer and volunteer groups, government agencies and law enforcement organizations, who are committed to fighting fraud aimed at consumers and businesses.
  • Through its partners, the Forum, chaired by the Competition Bureau, works to prevent Canadians from becoming victims of fraud by educating them on how to "Recognize it. Reject it. Report it."

About the Canadian Bankers Association

The Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 61 domestic banks, foreign bank subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada and their 280,000 employees. The CBA advocates for effective public policies that contribute to a sound, successful banking system that benefits Canadians and Canada’s economy. The Association also promotes financial literacy to help Canadians make informed financial decisions and works with banks and law enforcement to help protect customers against financial crime and promote fraud awareness. www.cba.ca.

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