Identity theft is a growing and serious crime. It happens when someone uses your personal information without your knowledge or consent to commit a crime, such as fraud or theft. Always be aware of new ways in which you are at risk for identity theft.

Guard Your Personal Information

  • Ask why: If you don’t know why someone is asking for your personal information, ask why they want it. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act is one law that limits the types of information that governments, businesses, and other organizations can collect from you. For more information on this and similar laws visit the Office of the Privacy Commissioner at www.priv.gc.ca.Your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office may also be able to tell you about similar laws that apply where you live.
  • Guard your PIN: Always shield the keypad when entering your personal identification number (PIN). Never give your PIN or password to anyone, including friends, family, staff at your financial institution or the police. If you think someone knows your PIN, change it immediately and tell your financial institution.
  • Carry only what you need: Consider leaving important identity cards, such as your Social Insurance Number, at home and carry only the payment cards you need.
  • Don’t make it easy for thieves: Choose a PIN or password that does not include your name, telephone number, date of birth, address or Social Insurance Number.
  • Protect your personal information: Keep your birth certificate, Social Insurance Number and passport in a secure place.
  • Be careful with personal information you no longer need: Shred or destroy sensitive information before throwing it out. This includes expired and unused credit and debit cards.

Guard Your Computer and its Contents

  • Choose a password that has a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols.
  • Make sure you have the most current anti-virus protection software and a firewall, you may have these through your computer’s operating system.
  • Don’t send financial or other confidential information using email or text messaging.
  • If you are buying something or banking online, make sure that the web page is secure. Here is how you can tell the website is secure:
    • The web address begins with https:// — the ‘s’ indicates that the site is secure.
    • You can see a small icon, often a lock or key, in your browser window. The lock should be in a locked position and the key should be unbroken.
  • Never follow a link in an email to start an online transaction with financial services like banks, credit unions or online credit payment sites. Go directly to the organization’s website instead.
  • When you are disposing of a computer, delete your personal information from the hard drive using overwrite software or destroy the drive.

See the Spam, Phishing and Spyware sections of this Handbook for additional tips and information on ways to protect yourself and your computer.

Be Careful with Social Networking

Be careful what you post on your social network profiles. Your status updates — about your whereabouts (are you at work? heading out to watch a game?) and upcoming travel plans — may expose your home to criminals who will take advantage of your absences. If you provide personal information, like your phone number or birthday, they can take this private information and use it to steal your identity. By looking at your photos or videos, they can also figure out where you live and work.

Here’s how to protect yourself:

  • Think about who is receiving your status updates. Make sure you are comfortable with everyone who has access to your personal page, and if you aren’t —remove them.
  • Make it a habit to clean up your profile from time to time. Always think twice about what you are posting, we tend to think about our personal sites as private, but in reality, many can be seen by just about anyone.
  • Choose the highest and most restrictive security setting available. Privacy and security settings on social networks help you control who can and can’t see your profile.
  • Keep personal information, personal — do not provide information like your birthday, full name, phone number, Social Insurance Number or address.
  • Be mindful of what you post. Is there information someone could use to steal your identity, burglarize your home or put you in danger? For example, if you provide information about your daily routines, criminals will have an easier time figuring out the best time your home will be empty.

Visit the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for more information on social networking and privacy.

Tracking your Activities — it’s easier than you think

We are always connected: either through cellular networks, Wi-Fi access points, satellite links or global positioning systems. This can be a good thing. For example, in medical or other emergencies, GPS systems can help locate people who have in medical or other emergencies dialled 911 with a cellphone   GPS can also help to locate a missing person. But there is a flip side to this ever-changing technology: it makes it easier for a criminal to access information, steal your identity, or compromise your safety.

Take cell phone applications (apps) that use GPS for example. Increasingly, these apps may be used to transmit coupons and other bonuses to the user’s mobile device when a user enters a store.

But just as apps vary in type and quality, so do their privacy policies and practices. From a technical standpoint, there’s little to stop developers from programming apps in a way that enables them to collect, use or share the personal information of users — and often that of their contacts or networks. Users may never even know this is happening, and might not approve of the practice if they did. The inappropriate collection, use or disclosure of personal information could expose people to surveillance or unwanted targeting by unscrupulous marketers or swindlers.

Geotagging — Location, location, location

When a photograph or video is taken with a cell phone or digital camera that is equipped with a global positioning system (GPS) the image can be coded with a geotag. Geotags provide information about the exact location where the photo or video was taken (the longitude and latitude). These codes are invisible to the viewer, so consumers who have cameras equipped with geotags do not realize they may be sharing their location information and possibly compromising their privacy, and potentially exposing themselves to identify theft, by posting pictures or videos online.

  • If you don’t know whether your digital camera, cell phone or video camera automatically codes your images with geotags, check the user guide or ask the manufacturer or the store where you bought the device.
  • If your digital camera, cell phone or video camera does have automatic geotagging you can disable this feature. Consult the user guide or contact the manufacturer or the store where you bought the device for help.

How to protect yourself from Identity Theft

  • Review your financial statements as soon as they come in and report any errors to your financial institution as soon as you can.
  • If you don’t receive your statements, notify your financial institution or credit issuer and Canada Post.
  • If your cards have been lost or stolen, contact each financial institution immediately.
  • Ask for a copy of your credit report each year and make sure the information is correct. Consult the Credit Reporting section of this Handbook for more information.
  • Before sharing personal information on social media networks, check your privacy settings and think carefully about what you are posting.
  • If you share photos and videos online, consider removing any geotags to prevent others from figuring out where you live and work.

If You’re a Victim of Identity Theft

Tell your financial institutions, credit issuers and local police of the theft as soon as you can.

Follow the advice for consumers in the Consumer Identity Theft Kit, available at www.cmcweb.ca/idtheft.

  • Contact Canada’s major credit reporting agencies (Equifax or TransUnion) to discuss placing a fraud alert on your file.
  • To help stop fraud, report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

You can also learn about identity theft and find advice on how to deal with it on the RCMP website.

The Canadian Anti-fraud Centre

Box 686

North Bay, Ontario  P1B 8J8

Telephone: 1-705-495-8501 (Overseas and Local)
Toll Free: 1-888-495-8501

Websitewww.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

RCMP Public Affairs and Communications Services

Headquarters Building
1200 Vanier Parkway

Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0R2

Telephone: 613-993-7267
Fax: 613-993-0260

Websitewww.rcmp.gc.ca

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

112 Kent Street
Place de Ville Tower B
3rd Floor

Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 1H3

Telephone: 613-995-8210
Toll Free: 1-800-282-1376
Phone (TTY): 613-992-9190
Fax: 613-947-6850

Websitewww.priv.gc.ca

Credit Reporting Agencies

TransUnion Canada

Consumer Relations
709 Main Street West
PO Box 338
LCD 1

Hamilton, Ontario  L8L 7W2

Telephone: 905-525-0262
Toll Free: 1-800-663-9980

Equifax Canada Inc.

Consumer Relations Department
PO Box 190
Jean Talon Station

Montréal, Quebec  H1S 2Z2

Telephone: 514-493-2314
Toll Free: 1-800-465-7166
Fax: 514-355-8502

Email

TransUnion Canada

Consumer Relations [For Quebec Residents]
Suite 370
1 Place Laval West

Laval, Quebec  H7N 1A1

Telephone: 514-335-0374
Toll Free: 1-877-713-3393

Provincial and Territorial Consumer Affairs Offices

Alberta

Service Alberta, Consumer Contact Centre
3rd Floor Commerce Place
10155-102 Street

Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4L4

Telephone: 780-427-4088
Toll Free: 1-877-427-4088

Email
Websitewww.servicealberta.ca

British Columbia

Consumer Protection BC
#307-3450 Uptown Blvd
PO Box 9244

Victoria, British Columbia  V8W 9J2

Telephone: 604-320-1667
Toll Free: 1-888-564-9963
Fax: 250-920-7181

Email
Websitewww.consumerprotectionbc.ca

Manitoba

Consumer Protection Office, Manitoba Justice
302-258 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3C 0B6

Telephone: 204-945-3800
Toll Free: 1-800-782-0067
Fax: 204-945-0728

Email
Websitewww.manitoba.ca/consumerinfo

New Brunswick

Financial and Consumer Services Commission
225 King Street, Suite 200

Fredericton, New Brunswick  E3B 1E1

Toll Free: 1-866-933-2222
Fax: 506-444-4494

Email
Websitewww.fcnb.ca

Newfoundland and Labrador

Service NL
PO Box 8700

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador  A1B 4J6

Telephone: 709-729-2600
Toll Free: 1-877-968-2600
Fax: 709-729-6998

Email
Websitewww.servicenl.gov.nl.ca/index.html

Northwest Territories

Consumer Affairs, Department of Municipal and Community Affairs
5201-50th Avenue, Suite 600
PO Box 1320

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories  X1A 2L9

Telephone: 867-767-9161 ext 21022
Fax: 867-873-0309

Email
Websitewww.maca.gov.nt.ca/en/services/consumer-affairs

Nova Scotia

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Public Enquiries
Mail Room, 8 South
Maritime Centre
1505 Barrington Street

Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3J 3K5

Telephone: 902-424-5200
Toll Free: 1-800-670-4357
Fax: 902-424-0720

Email
Websitenovascotia.ca/sns/access/individuals/consumer-awareness.asp

Nunavut

Consumer Affairs, Department of Community and Government Services
3090 – 9th Street
P.O. Box 440

Baker Lake, Nunavut  X0C 0A0

Telephone: 867-793-3303
Toll Free: 1-866-223-8139
Fax: 867-793-3321

Email
Websitewww.gov.nu.ca/

Ontario

Consumer Protection Ontario, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Box 450
1201 Wilson Ave, Station A

Toronto, Ontario  M3M 1J8

Telephone: 416-326-8800
Toll Free: 1-800-889-9768
Phone (TTY): 416-229-6086
Phone (TTY) 2: 1-877-666-6545
Fax: 416-326-8665

Email
Websitewww.ontario.ca/consumerprotection

Prince Edward Island

Consumer Services, Department of Justice and Public Safety
Shaw Building, 4th Floor
95 Rochford Street
PO Box 2000

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island  C1A 7N8

Telephone: 902-368-4580
Telephone: 902-368-4550
Toll Free: 1-800-658-1799
Fax: 902-368-5283

Websitehttps://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/consumer-services

Quebec

Office de la protection du consommateur
400 Jean-Lesage Boulevard, Suite 450

Québec, Quebec  G1K 8W4

Telephone: 418-643-1484
Toll Free: 1-888-672-2556
Fax: 418-528-0976

Websitewww.opc.gouv.qc.ca

Yukon

Consumer Services, Department of Community Services
307 Black Street

Whitehorse, Yukon  Y1A 2N1

Telephone: 867-667-5111
Toll Free: 1-800-661-0408 ext. 5111
Fax: 867-667-3609

Email
Websitewww.community.gov.yk.ca/consumer/index.html

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