Identity theft has been on the rise so I thought I would share some information to protect yourself from identity theft.
How to Spot Identity Theft
- Review your credit report regularly to spot suspicious account openings.
- Check banking transactions regularly. Report anything strange immediately.
- Recognize, and look into it, if youre not getting important pieces of mail (i.e. bills, bank statements).
- You are receiving calls from debt collectors about debts that aren't yours.
- You get a notice that your information was compromised at a place you do business with or have an account.
How to Protect Yourself
- HTTPS. Purchasing or putting your information into a website that does not have the prefix HTTPS means it is not secure. Watch out for sites that only have HTTP.
- Secure your mail. Do not leave any trace of information on credit card statements, utility bills, and the like. This is a strategy lots of thieves use to gather information from you. Shred anything that has your name and address on it.
- Read your credit card statements thoroughly and often.
- DO NOT EVER give personal information such as your SIN, DOB, and banking information away without 100% knowing who you are talking to - even if they are threatening you with legal action or imprisonment.
Here is a true story:
I recently had some clients who had their house up for sale and received an offer. They were so excited and went off to put an offer on the home of their dreams. When it came time to get their mortgage financing in place, the mortgage insurers declined the client. We couldn't understand why as they had solid employment, great credit, no debt and their own funds for the down payment from the sale of their home.
After digging a little more, we pulled their Trans Union credit bureau, which is what the insurers pulled and saw that a credit card with a limit and balance for $22,000 was outstanding for 4 months and was heading to collections. When this was discussed with the clients, they noted it was not theirs. So, I directed them to reach out to Equifax and Trans Union and do a fraud inquiry. Here is what was found out:
The credit card had been open for 14 years ago, each time, drawn down and paid in full. When this typically happens, the lender keeps increasing the limit until it reached $22,000. At this time, they had taken a cash advance for 22k and walked. The mailing address of the cardholder was Montreal Quebec. The client had never lived there. They thought this would be cleared up quickly but to their surprise, it could take up to 6 weeks so no lenders would proceed with their purchase. They had to walk away from the offer on their dream home as they couldn't get new financing till the fraud was cleared up and they also had to walk away from the sale of their home as they would be homeless.
This is just a prime example of starting your preapproval process early so that any surprises can be detected early on.