Identity theft and fraud
What is identity theft?
Identity theft refers to the preparatory stage of acquiring and collecting someone else’s personal information for criminal purposes. Identity theft techniques can range from unsophisticated, such as dumpster diving and mail theft, to more elaborate schemes, such as phishing, job scams, loan scams, service scams, tax scams, bank investigator scams, and investment scams. Computer spywares and viruses, designed to help thieves acquire personal information, are an emerging trend.
More information on these and other scams can be found under Fraud types.
Warning signs – How to protect yourself
- Identity theft can occur over the Internet, telephone, via fax or regular mail. You should be particularly wary of unsolicited e-mails, text messages, telephone calls or mail attempting to extract personal or financial information from you.
- Periodically check your credit reports, bank and credit card statements and report any irregularities promptly to the relevant financial institution and to the credit bureau.
- During transactions, if you must hand over your card, never lose sight of it.
- Always shield your personal identification number when using an ATM or a PIN pad.
- Memorize all personal identification numbers for payment cards and telephone calling cards. Never write them on the cards.
- Familiarize yourself with billing cycles for your credit and debit cards.
- Trash bins are a goldmine for identity thieves. Make sure you shred personal and financial documents before putting them in the garbage.
- When you change your address, make sure you notify the post office and all relevant financial institutions (your bank and credit card companies).
What is identity fraud?
Identity fraud is the actual deceptive use of the identity information of another person (living or dead) in connection with various frauds (including impersonating another person and the misuse of debit or credit card data).
Criminals can use your stolen or reproduced personal or financial information to
- Access your computer/email
- Access your bank accounts
- Open new bank accounts
- Transfer bank balances
- Apply for loans, credit cards and other goods and services
- Make purchases
- Hide their criminal activities
- Obtain passports or receive government benefits