Identity theft is a major concern in 2018, but a significant segment of the population doesn’t fully understand the ways it can occur. Prevention starts with knowing all the ways you could be vulnerable to someone accessing your personal information so that you can put the proper safeguards up and adopt the best habits. Below are the most frequent types of identity theft and ways that individuals and companies can have their sensitive data accessed.
The information you want to keep out of strangers’ hands is your full name, SIN number, credit card and account numbers (and security codes), email addresses, birth date, phone number, and passwords. Some of these pieces of information are okay – like the library having your name and email address – but they don’t need your SIN number, for example. It’s also okay for credible and accountable institutions to have your personal information for governmental purposes, but you should not be putting your credit card number or SIN number on a rental application.Always protect your passwords and never write them down where they can be seen by anyone. A large amount oftheft is perpetrated by friends and family.
Ways that thieves can access your information varies from digital to analogue. Massive data breaches of places like Yahoo, credit bureaus, or the Canadian Revenue Agency are not in your hands, but you should immediately change your logins, passwords, and contact agencies to see what steps to take to protect yourself when they happen. Hacks get a lot of attention in the news, but they are not the only way, nor the easiest way, for thieves to obtain your information.
Dumpster diving and mail theft is a common tactic. Mail can contain many of the above pieces of identifying information, and if you don’t regularly shred then recycle your old documents and mail, it could be thrown away or stolen. The importance of using document destruction services is huge. Regularly check your mail and get someone to fetch it for you or put a hold on your serviceif you’re away. Get rid of your old tax files beyond six years and any other documents that contain info about you and your family. Criminals can attempt to reroute your mail using a mail forwarding service with your post office, so check for confirmation notices that will arrive advising you that a request was made.
Don’t give out your personal information over the phone. Scammers pretending to be a tax agency or your bank will call and innocently ask for names, account and credit card numbers, and other information that an agency or institution would never ask for over the phone. If you have made the call yourself, on the other hand, it’s safe to answer security questions when you know who is on the other end.
As mentioned above, the physical theft of items is a frequently used method. Don’t leave your laptop or phone in the open and make sure no one is looking over your shoulder when entering logins and passwords in a public place. Don’t access sensitive sites like your bank when you’re on a public wi-fi. Don’t keep old electronics lying around. Have a professional document destruction company securely crush all items like phones, computers, drives, and disks – and they should recycle the leftover materials, too.
For a variety of other ways identity theft can occur, check out this resource. The power to protect yourself is in your hands.