With much information being shared online, it’s easy for someone to hack into accounts and snag enough sensitive data to steal your identity. Statistics specific to identity theft in Canada as of 2022 has been reported by The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre as being 68,000 fraud reports, 43,476 victims and over $360 million in fraud. To keep your identity safe, it’s important to stay informed about potential red flags that could indicate a threat. Here are five signs of identity theft to keep an eye out for.
Random Charges on Your Credit Card
Identity theft is not always obvious. Most thieves will not drain your account dry in one breach. Instead, they’ll make small purchases with your credit card or take out minor withdrawals from your bank account, making it difficult for you to notice someone using your funds. Credit card theft is one of the biggest in which current statistics indicate 56 percent of applications are the result of identity fraud. If you start noticing withdrawals that you can’t explain, contact your bank to freeze your accounts until you can find out what’s happening.
Credit Collectors Start Calling You
Are you getting random calls from credit collection companies? Thieves will often steal your information to open accounts and then rack up bills. Collect all the details that you can from the caller about the overdue invoices and then call the companies directly to find out who opened these accounts under your name and how they are being paid.
Unknown Accounts on Your Credit Report
One way to tell if you’ve become a victim of identity theft is to pull your credit report. Equifax and TransUnion will provide you with a report outlining all the accounts currently active or recently closed. If you have unknown accounts on your report that you did not open, this could be a sign that someone else has opened accounts under your name by using your personal information.
You Receive Random Invoices
If you receive invoices by mail or through your email for services you didn’t use, this could be a sign your information has been stolen. Contrary to this, if you’re still getting charged for services you no longer receive, identity thieves might have switched your address and are now enjoying paid services on your dime.
You’re Locked Out of Accounts
Getting locked out of your email, Facebook, or bank account is never a good sign. Identity thieves will change your password as soon as they have taken over your account. If you can’t access your accounts, contact the platform directly to find out if there has been a data breach.
Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
Take these steps to ensure your identity is protected:
- Check your credit report twice a year
- Have different passwords for each account
- Don’t keep personal information on your phone or computer
- Add multi-factor identification for accounts and apps
- Don’t send personal information by text or messenger or email
- Only enter your credit card information on encrypted, secured, trusted websites
- Do not display your birthdate or address on social media
When your identity has been stolen, you need to act fast. Contact your bank to freeze your accounts and issue new cards. Then change all your passwords to your online accounts, utility services and government accounts. You might also need to contact the government, Equifax/TransUnion, and utility companies to update your address and report that your identity was stolen.
Source: Smith Investigation