Dec 17, 2020

What every Canadian should know about identity theft protection

In this digital age, the creativity and resourcefulness of thieves is nothing shy of impressive. And it isn’t always about money. Personal information can open many doors for fraudsters including applying for loans, renting apartments or cars and more. 

Could it happen to you? Canadian identity theft statistics:

42% of Canadians have noticed an increase in suspicious emails, texts, phone calls, or online advertisements.* But did you know 52% of Canadians are unable to identify all of the warning signs of identity theft, even when the signs are provided in a list?* Unfortunately, thieves are becoming more creative than ever:

  • Forged applications: Identity thieves will use their victim’s personal information to apply for a variety of services. For example, in the midst of COVID-19, there have been reports of scammers who have applied for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) on their victim’s behalf.** 
  • Dumpster diving for info: With more people working from home, a greater amount of personal and work information is being thrown into the household recycling bin. Thieves know it’s easier to lift a lid than it is to hack into someone’s email.

Signs your identity has been stolen:

Most people notice ID theft when they see purchases they can’t explain or withdrawals from an account. However, identity theft isn’t always as obvious as a stolen or missing wallet. Here are some less obvious signs:

  • Health plans: Fraudsters know there’s money for the taking in health plans. If you get notified that you’re suddenly not covered for a condition or you’ve reached your benefit limit, it could mean someone has stolen your identity.
  • Calls from creditors: Getting contacted by a creditor to approve or deny credit you never applied for.
  • No mail: If you’re not receiving expected bills or other mail, it’s possible that fraudsters may have redirected your mail to another address or stolen it from your mailbox.

Identity theft prevention in Canada:

The harder we can make it for thieves to steal our identity, the better off we are. Here are some tips to make their lives more difficult:

  • Create strong passwords: Use strong online passwords. This means that your password should include a combination of capital letters, numbers and symbols. Never use one password for all your accounts. 
  • Spot bad emails: Fraudsters love to fake official looking emails with links to fill out forms or offers that sound too good to be true. These could look like they’re from a cable provider, a financial institution or even the government. Always double check the sender’s address to see where the email has originated from and never click suspicious links.
  • Cover your paper trail: Shred or destroy pre-approved credit card applications, credit card receipts, bills, and related information when you no longer need them. You should also avoid keeping a written record of your bank account, PIN number(s), Social Insurance Number, and computer password(s) around the house or in your wallet. 

How we can help in the event of identity theft:

Surprisingly, only 26 per cent of Canadians say they have identity theft protection or insurance.* For those who do, be sure to review your coverage with your insurance broker to understand what’s included in your policy. At Johnson Insurance, we’re here to help protect you by offering identity theft coverage in all home insurance policies. To learn more about home insurance through Johnson, give us a call or visit our home insurance page.

* According to a recent survey commissioned by Johnson Insurance, a leading property insurer offering identity theft coverage.

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