Consumer Advice What is identity theft?
What is identity theft? Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your knowledge or consent to commit a crime, such as fraud or theft.
Once they steal the information and manipulate it, identity thieves can invade your personal and financial life. They can use stolen identities to conduct spending sprees, open new bank accounts, divert mail, apply for loans, credit cards, and social benefits, rent apartments and even commit more serious crimes which, once arrested, they pin on their new identity.
ID thieves get your personal information by:
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• Stealing personal and private information from wallets, purses, mail, your home, vehicle, computer, and Web sites you’ve visited or e-mails you’ve sent.
• Retrieving personal information in your garbage or recycling bin by “dumpster diving”.
• Posing as a creditor, landlord or employer to get a copy of your credit report.
• Tampering with ATM and terminals at stores, which enables thieves to read your debit or credit card number and PIN.
• Buying the information from a dishonest employee working where personal and/or financial information is stored.
• Removing mail from your mailbox.
• Searching public sources, such as newspapers (obituaries), phone books, and records open to the public (professional certifications).
For more information on how to protect yourself from ID theft, and other common consumer scams, visit ConsumerInformation.ca. It’s a Web site created by federal, provincial, territorial governments and their partners specifically to provide Canadians with convenient, one-stop access to hundreds of objective, reliable, current consumer information sources.
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