With all the advances in electronic communications over the past years, consumer privacy has become a very important issue. You must guard your personal information at all times.
It is possible for people who obtain very basic personal information about you to drain your bank accounts or charge purchases to your credit cards. They could even open new accounts in your name, costing you a great deal of time and money. They can also bombard you with unwanted solicitations and marketing.
By taking some simple precautions, you can go a long way towards guarding your privacy, finances and peace of mind.
- When companies ask for your social insurance number (SIN) or for personal information that is not essential for the transaction, ask them why they need it. Be wary about giving out your SIN. While there are no laws preventing businesses from asking for it, you are only required to give it out for a very few specific reasons, such as for tax purposes. For more information, please consult the SIN number fact sheet on the website of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
- Don't give anyone your credit card or bank account numbers unless you're making purchases with them and don't put credit card numbers on your cheques.
- When filling out warranty or other information cards, don't include optional or unnecessary personal information.
- Check out companies promoting sweepstakes, contests and prize offers before deciding to do business with them or releasing personal or financial information.
- Always check your credit card, cellphone, telephone and other bills to make sure that all the charges are for items that you authorized.
- When using a credit or debit card, don't leave the receipt behind.
- Shield your personal identification number (PIN) when using a debit card.
For information on guarding your privacy and personal information, please consult the Consumer Identity Theft Kit prepared by the Consumer Measures Committee.