Identity theft and fraud
December 2020: The scams and fraud on this page increase during the holiday season. Know what to look for and how to protect yourself.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft refers to criminals stealing someone else's personal information for criminal purposes. Identity theft can be:
- unsophisticated, such as dumpster diving and mail theft
- more elaborate, such as phishing or database breaches
Computer spywares and viruses also help thieves steal personal information.
What is identity fraud?
Identity fraud happens when criminals use stolen personal information. It is often used to commit another crime.
Criminals can use your stolen or reproduced information to:
- access your computer/email
- access your bank accounts
- open new bank accounts
- transfer bank balances
- apply for loans and credit cards
- buy goods and services
- hide their criminal activities
- get passports or receive government benefits
Actions you can take to protect yourself
- be wary of unsolicited e-mails, text messages, telephone calls or mail asking you for personal or financial information
- check your credit reports, bank and credit card statements and report any irregularities
- shred personal and financial documents before putting them in the garbage
- retrieve your mail on a regular basis to limit possible mail theft
- when you move, notify the post office and your relevant financial institutions and service providers
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