Identity crime is one of the fastest growing forms of criminal activity in Canada at this time. Identity crime involves the unauthorized gathering, trading or use of another person’s personal information including credit card numbers, social insurance numbers, and drivers licence numbers, which are then used to facilitate other criminal activities.
In some cases, the victim’s personal information is used to make fraudulent purchases on the victim’s credit card. In other cases, the victim’s information is used to open bank accounts, purchase cell phones, and obtain loans and mortgages.
These crimes can damage a person’s credit rating and financial status and cause emotional suffering that is similar to victims of violent crimes. In some cases it may take years for the victims to recover their credit rating.
- Don’t leave your wallet or purse unattended or even in your locked vehicle.
- Shred all bills, bank statements and any other documents that contain identity information prior to placing them in the trash.
- Regularly check your bank account and utility statement for any unusual activity
- Review your credit report to ensure there is no suspicious activity
- Check your mailbox daily to prevent theft of mail
- Arrange to pick up new cards such as credit cards at your bank rather than having them mailed to your home address
- Don’t open any unknown emails or respond to unsolicited requests for personal informationFor more information on fraud and identity theft, see Online Anti-Fraud Resources or Elder Fraud Information.
- The Economic/Technical Crime Unit is available for community presentations on fraud awareness and prevention – call 604.946.4411.
ID Stolen? Now what?
If you have ever lost your wallet or had it stolen, it can be frustrating and costly to replace all your documents, not to mention how worrying it can be. To make the process of replacing your documents easier it can be a good idea to keep a list of your important card numbers somewhere safe so that you can easily refer to it when you need to replace your cards. Always remember though: never keep pin numbers/passwords with the card numbers.
What to do
If you suspect that you are a victim of identity crime, or have had your identification lost or stolen, you can take the following steps to help minimize the damage and prevent any further identity theft and fraud:
- Notify your Financial Institutions immediately to have them cancel your cards and re-issue them and put alerts on your accounts
- Contact the police department where the theft or loss occurred to file a report. Even if a police officer does not attend to take the report in person you will be provided with a file number which many agencies will require. Police departments map crime locations and statistics and use this information to identify suspects and trends.
- Contact consumer credit reporting agencies Equifax and TransUnion to alert them of the theft. These agencies will add a statement to your file to alert credit grantors that you may be a victim of fraudulent activity. This may mean that the next time you apply for credit you will be questioned more thoroughly as a precautionary measure. The credit grantor wants to make sure that you are, in fact, the person you say you are. You can also obtain free copies of your credit report which will list all accounts in your name. Contact them by phone toll free or obtain services through their websites:
|Trans Union Credit Bureau:||1.800.663.9980||– free version info|
- If your driver’s licence has been stolen, visit your driver licensing office to replace your old licence. You will need to bring some approved identification to have your licence replaced. Expect to pay a fee. For citizens of British Columbia you can contact ICBC for more information: ICBC | Your licence
- If your Social Insurance Card has been stolen you will need to apply for a new one. Your card number can be found on your income tax return. You cannot use copies of documents to apply for a new SIN card and must take original documents. Visit Service Canada for more information.
- If your BC Services or Care Card is lost or stolen you should report it immediately to Health Insurance BC. You can find out more information and how to replace your card at: MSP – Your BC Services Card/CareCard. You will need two pieces of identification.
- If your passport is lost or stolen you should report it immediately to Passport Canada at 1.800.567.6868. Information on how to replace the document can be found at Passport Canada
- If you have had your British Columbia birth certificate stolen you can find more information on what you should do next at Vital Statistics BC
Cell phones – What to do if your cell phone is lost or stolen
Too many of us, our cell phones are more like small computers than phones. They are our photo albums, cameras, address books, diaries, games centres, banking centres, music storage and much more. The loss or theft of a cell phone can be costly and devastating due to the sheer amount of information we store on them.
For more information on fraud and identity theft, see Online Anti-Fraud Resources.
- Contact your wireless service provider immediately to flag and suspend your account
- Have your IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number written down or stored somewhere safe (you may access this number by typing *#06# into the keypad of your device or by looking on the back of your device behind the battery). If you know your IMEI number your wireless provider can add your phone to the National Blacklist Registry which means it will not be able to be activated
- Contact any banking institutions or change the passwords to any online banking and other online accounts that you access automatically from your phone
- Report the theft to police.