National Fraud Prevention Month Focuses on Identity Theft


    Did you know that Canadians lost $11 million to identity theft scams in 2016? March is National Fraud Prevention Month and with this week focusing on identity theft, BBB is urging consumers to safeguard their personal information.

     “It can be as simple as replying to what seems like a legitimate email from your bank, iTunes, Netflix, Facebook or other online service,” says Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. “These emails or text messages often ask for personal or financial information to verify your account, install updates or re-gain access to your account. Asking questions and doing your own research before handing over personal information is essential to protect your identity.”

    What counts as personal information?

    • Your Social Insurance Number

    • Bank account numbers

    • Credit card information

    • Phone number

    • Address

    • Other personal identifiable information

    So, what happens if your identity stolen?

    Scammers can take out credit cards, bank loans or even property, or commit other illegal activity in your name.

    BBB offers these tips for avoiding identity theft:

    • Safeguard your Social Insurance Number. If asked for it, don’t automatically give it. Ask how it will be used. Before providing it verbally, check to see who might be listening. Don’t carry your Social Insurance card with you. Also, don’t have your Social Insurance Number printed on your driver’s license or cheques.

    • Don’t carry official documents regularly. Your birth certificate, Social Insurance card, bank statements, passport, or extra credit cards should be kept in a secure, locked location and only taken with except when necessary.

    • Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on the weekends. Deposit outgoing mail in Canada Post collection boxes. You may consider installing a locking mailbox.

    • Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Always install any updates to your computer’s operating system or browser software, and make sure your firewall is turned on.

    • Always check your credit or debit card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify and report any potential fraud, the less you’ll suffer in the long run.

    • Check your credit report at least once a year. Check your credit score with TransUnion or Equifax.  Look for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies that could affect your ability to receive loans or other financial aid.

    • Check with the BBB. Verify suspicious websites and businesses by looking for the BBB Accredited Business Seal. Also check BBB Business Reviews online.

    For tips you can trust, visit


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