Valley First

Identity Theft Basics

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in North America. It occurs when someone steals your personal information for their own personal gain. Knowledge is the key in protecting yourself.



What You Need to Know

Some examples of personal information which can be used by an identity thief to impersonate you are:

  • Social Insurance Number
  • Driver’s License Number
  • Health Care Card Number
  • Debit Card
  • Credit Card Numbers
  • PIN (personal identification number)
  • Address
  • Birth Certificates

Identity thieves gain your personal information by:

  • Stealing wallets and purses containing your identification, credit cards and debit cards
  • Stealing your mail, including you debit and credit card statements, preapproved credit offers, telephone calling cards and tax information
  • Completing a change of address form to divert your mail
  • Rummaging through your garbage or the garbage of business for personal information
  • “Shoulder surfing” at ABMs to obtain PIN numbers
  • Breaking and entering into your home
  • Looking at personal information from personnel or customer files in the workplace

Identity thieves use your personal information to:

  • Call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, ask to increase your card limit and change the mailing address on your credit card account.  The thief then runs up charges on your account.  As the bills are being sent to another address, it may take some time before you know there’s a problem.
  • Open a new credit card account using your name, date of birth and SIN number.  When they use the credit card and don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
  • Establish phone or internet service in your name.
  • Open a bank account in your name and write off bad cheques on that account.
  • Use counterfeit cheques or debit cards to drain your account.
  • Obtain credit in your name (e.g. car loans, credit cards, mortgage).

Protection Tips

How You Can Protect Yourself

To protect yourself from identity theft you can:

  • Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Further protect yourself, by not using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SIN or your phone number or a series of consecutive numbers.
  • Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having service work done in your home.
  • Never attach or write your PIN number or SIN on anything you are going to discard, such as transaction records or scraps of paper, or on the card itself.
  • Ask about information security procedures in your workplace.  Find out who has access to your personal information and certify records are kept in a secure location.  Ask about disposal procedures for those records as well.
  • Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office rather than in an unsecured mailbox.  Promptly remove mail from your mailbox.  If you’re planning to be away from home and can’t pick up your mail, the postal service will hold your mail from your mailbox until you can pick it up or at home to receive it.
  • Shred any important personal and financial paperwork when it is no longer required. Unless properly shredded, criminals could learn your name, address and other details by going through your household recycling and garbage and use this information to apply for credit, goods or services in your name.
  • Check your statements—Most financial crime goes undetected for long periods, because victims are simply unaware that it has occurred. By carefully checking your banking, credit card and any other financial statements on a regular basis (at least monthly) you improve the chances of having the fraudulent transactions resolved more quickly.
  • Find out how your information will be used and secured and whether it will be shared with others.  Ask if you have a choice about the use of your information. Can you choose to keep it confidential? Valley First will not ask you for your PIN number or other passwords during an authentication process.
  • Don’t carry your SIN card; leave it in a secure place.
  • Give your SIN only when absolutely necessary.  Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.
  • Carry only the identification information and credit and debit cards that you’ll actually need. Cancel cards you don’t use.
  • Protect your computer with a good firewall and anti-virus software.   Take advantage of technologies that enhance security and privacy when using the internet, such as digital signatures, data encryption, and different ways of making the information anonymous.
  • Avoid posting personal information on publicly accessible websites and online bulletin boards.
  • Use strong passwords and avoid words that are easy to guess.  Don’t use the same password for different sites and don’t store your password on your computer.
  • Shop on secure websites.  Do not enter any financial information, including your credit card number, if you see a broken key or open padlock on your website browser.
  • Pay attention to your billing cycles.  Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time.  A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
  • Be wary of promotional scams. Identity thieves may use phony offers to get you to give them your personal information.
  • Keep your purse of wallet in a safe place at work.

Report Fraud

How to Report Fraud

If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft, you should:

  • Call your Valley First branch immediately.
  • Call the police and file a report.  Ask for a copy of the police report and the police file number.
  • Obtain a copy of your Credit Bureau report.  If you see credit inquiries on your report that you didn’t authorize, have a fraud alert placed on your credit bureau report. You can do this by contacting Equifax Canada at 1-800-465-7166, Trans Union of Canada at 1-800-663-9980 or Experian at 1-888-397-3742.
  • Contact each credit grantor who has allowed a fraudulent account and tell them you did not open that account.  Have them close these accounts.
  • Change your PIN (debit and credit card access) and your PAC (online and telephone access) immediately.  If you open new accounts, make sure you put a new password on these accounts.
  • Contact Canada Post if someone is diverting your mail.
  • Document all the contacts you make along with dates, names and phone numbers.
  • Review all recent transactions on your accounts to ensure there hasn’t been a request for a change of address or a change of PIN number.

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