Valley First

Doppelganger Alert

Simple tips to help you guard against identity theft
March 14, 2013

Penticton, B.C.—It is estimated that approximately one million Canadians are victims of mass marketing fraud and identity theft in Canada each year, at a cost of $10 billion.* While there are no typical descriptors for a fraud victim—it can happen to anyone—there are certainly steps people can take to help protect themselves from fraud and identity theft.

“Scam artists are professional criminals who are actively looking for ways to gain access to your personal information,” explains Lindzee Herring, senior manager of corporate security at Valley First. “If anyone has ever been a victim of a stolen wallet or purse they will tell you the financial and emotional stress is significant from having to re-establish their credit to replacing all of their identification. It’s a burden that’s best avoided if possible. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can proactively protect yourself against identity theft.”

Here are just a few simple tips to keep in mind:

Carry only what you need
Herring advises that people should only carry what they use and need in their wallets. “Only carry the credit and debit cards that you use and need. Everything else like your social insurance card and birth certificate should really be stored in a secure and safe place—not in your wallet.”

Mobile alerts for when you’re on the go
“Signing up for mobile alerts for online banking can help you stay on top of your account activity,” says Herring. “If transactions or activities are occurring on your account like password changes or new bill payees being added, these notifications will alert you to potential fraud immediately.”

Be stingy with your personal information
“Be weary of who you’re giving your personal information or account information to,” says Herring. “You should always confirm the identity of the person making the request and under no circumstances should you give out any personal information in response to emails.

What you throw away can hurt you
One of the easiest ways that identity thieves can access your personal information is through the trash, particularly if you discard things like old credit card receipts, financial statements or even pre-approved credit card applications without tearing them up.

“Shred everything—including any documents that contain any personal information,” Herring emphasizes. “Don’t forget to completely destroy the data before disposing of your old computers, hard drives or mobile device as simply deleting and reformatting hard drives are not enough. Items like CDs or DVDs should be physically destroyed before they’re thrown out.”

Herring adds: “To support the communities we serve, Valley First is hosting a ‘Shred it and Forget it’ event in the coming weeks. Members of the community are invited to bring their personal information and old papers to be shredded and disposed of safely.”

The event is being held on Saturday, March 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Crown Packaging Parking Lot, 2092 Enterprise Way, Kelowna.

Unfortunately, despite taking precautions, identity theft still occurs. In such instances, Herring shares one last tip on what victims can do to take action if it does.

“If you ever find yourself a victim of identity theft or have your wallet/purse stolen, the Canadian Identity Theft Support Centre is a great resource for the public. They have a checklist called the Victim Toolkit that lists all the steps a person should take if they have their identity stolen and the contact information to various agencies they should call to report the crime.”

*Source: Competition Bureau of Canada

About Valley First

Valley First is a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union, which has 38 branches and 29 insurance offices throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Kitimat and Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. First West has approximately $6.6 billion in assets under administration, 169,000 members and 1,300 employees.

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