5 things to do immediately after your identity is stolen

(NC) If you keep up-to-date with popular movies and newspaper headlines, then you probably are aware of extreme versions of identity theft. But if this were to happen to you in real life, would you know what to do?

Identity theft is when scammers acquire and collect your personal information for criminal purposes. Identity thieves are eager to steal your credit card information, bank account details, full name, date of birth, social insurance number, full address, mother’s maiden name, online usernames and passwords, driver’s license number, signature and passport number.

If you fall victim to this sneaky scam, here are the steps you should take:

1. Confirm. The best way to find out if your identity has been stolen is to monitor your financial accounts and your credit card statements frequently. If you’re getting calls from collection agencies about unfamiliar accounts or your credit applications are turned down unexpectedly, investigate further.

2. Contact your financial institution. If you think someone has gained access to your personal financial information, call your financial institution immediately so they can suspend your accounts and limit the amount of money you lose. Credit card companies may also be able to reverse a transaction if they believe your card was billed fraudulently.

3. Use the right contact info. Never use the contact details of financial institutions that appear in emails or websites you are suspicious of — they will probably be fake and lead you to a scammer. You can find legitimate contact details in the phone book, on your account statement or on the back of your card.

4. Report it. By reporting the scam to authorities, they may be able to warn other people and minimize the chances of it spreading further. The best places to report this are the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the Competition Bureau.

5. Protect yourself. Take steps to keep this unfortunate scam from happening. Be wary of unsolicited attempts to extract personal or financial information, shred documents before recycling them, shield your PIN when using your credit or debit cards, and notify the post office and your financial institutions when you change your address. Familiarize yourself with the billing cycles of your credit and debit cards, double checking all statements for irregularities.

Find more information at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.

www.newscanada.com

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