Identity thieves illegally obtain personal or financial information for the sole purpose of assuming that person's name or identity to make transactions or purchases. Learn how to protect your identity with these helpful tips.

Identity Protection Tips

Don’t let someone steal your identity. Identity theft is a growing problem, and it can be very expensive to recover from. Take these simple steps to protect yourself:

Shred personal documents instead of recycling them whole.

Avoiding revealing personal information to companies you don’t know to be trusted firms.

Cut up expired and unused credit cards. The card may have expired, but the number can still be used by thieves.

Carry only the identification and credit card(s) you will need that day. You rarely need to carry your birth certificate, SIN card or passport.

Don’t fill in forms for contests, rebates or draws that ask for more information than you are prepared to give.

Arrange for a trusted neighbour to pick up your mail if you’re going to be away. You can also go to your local post office (with identification) and ask for Canada Post’s hold mail service. There is a charge for this service.

Use complex passwords on your credit card, financial and other accounts rather than easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, parts of your phone number or a series of consecutive numbers.

Don’t use an automatic log-in feature that saves your user name and password. While this may save time when you log in or enter a website, it’s a gold mine for a hacker.

Add virus protection software to your computer and update it regularly. Viruses can instruct your computer to send information to other systems and you may not know it.

Don’t send personal or confidential information over e-mail. E-mail messages aren’t secure.

Look for the code https://, or an icon of a closed lock or an unbroken key when making online transactions.

Keep credit card, debit card and automatic banking machine receipts so you can match them to your statements.

Make sure no one is watching when you enter a personal identification number (PIN) or password.

Know when your credit card, other financial statements and utility bills are due. If they don’t arrive when they are supposed to, call the company – an identity thief may have changed the billing address.