Fraud, identity theft and other types of scams can happen anywhere – at your mailbox or recycle bin, by email or over the phone. Currently, fraud-related offences are on the rise, and in Canada they may be as profitable as drug-related crime. The RCMP Commercial Crime Branch estimates between $10 and $30 billion is made through fraud per year.
Identity theft is when someone steals your name and other personal information. With identity theft, your information is used to fraudulently access your financial accounts, open new accounts or apply for loans or credit cards. Identity thieves will often use a variety of activities to target your physical mail as well as email accounts.
Here are some tips to help protect your privacy and minimize the risk of identity theft:
1. Pick-up physical mail as soon as possible after delivery.
Never leave it overnight in the mailbox.
2. Protect your personal information.
Shred sensitive documents, including anything with your name and address on it. If you receive digital bills, ensure you regularly empty your delete box.
3. Away from home? Avoid mail and other deliveries from piling up at your front door.
Arrange for someone to pick up your mail or use Canada Post’s Hold Mail service to ensure your mail is held safely until you return.
4. Be aware of billing cycles.
If your bills or statement don’t arrive at their usual time, follow up immediately to ensure they haven’t been fraudulently redirected.
5. Protect your PINs and passwords.
Change them regularly, never share your passwords and use different passwords for multiple accounts.
6. Beware if suspicious sources ask you for personal information.
Identity thieves deploy various elaborate strategies to obtain this type of data.
7. Contact Canada Post if you’re receiving mail at your address in other people’s name.
Finally, remember that if you receive an offer that sounds too good to be true – it probably is!
Report any suspicious activity to police.