What Should I do if I am a Victim of Identity Theft?

By Randall Orser | Personal Finances

If you are victim of identity theft or identity fraud, you should immediately take action to prevent further crimes from happening and to restore your credit and good name. Here are some important steps you need to take:

  • Stay calm! Think about all the identification information that you have that may have been lost or stolen.  Check filing cabinets for records of all your credit card number, bank account information, and government identification.  Create a spreadsheet and enter all this information. Use it to track all the steps you take to recover or correct each item and all the information that you obtain.
  • Track all communications with financial institutions, law enforcement and government or other agencies.  You can enter this information on your spreadsheet for future reference.
  • Contact both credit bureaus and let them know that you have been a victim of identity fraud.

    Equifax Canada http://www.consumer.equifax.ca/home/en_ca   1-800-465-7166    TransUnion Canada http://www.transunion.ca  1-877-525-3823    

    Request  a copy of your credit bureau report – this report may be free of charge. Request that a "Fraud Warning" be placed on your credit file instructing creditors to contact you personally before opening new accounts in your name - these warnings remain on file for 6 years. Remember to contact and file fraud warnings with both bureaus 
  • Review your credit reports – look for new credit accounts that you did not open, creditors who have made enquires on your credit report when you have not asked for credit.  Contact all of these creditors and describe your identity theft case and ask them to close any accounts you did not open, and to decline any requests for new accounts.

  • Contact your local police – Report the theft of your identity information and ensure that you are given a report number and record it for future reference.  Banks and creditors may require proof of the crime in order to erase debts created by identity theft.  Any suspicious information on your credit bureau reports should be disclosed to the police.  

  • Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) – The CAFC is the central agency in Canada that collects all information and criminal intelligence on all forms of identity theft and fraud.  They do not investigate but they provide assistance to law enforcement.  Visit their website at Canadian Anti-Fraud Center or call them at 1-888-495-8501.

  • Review all of your bank and credit card statements – If you see any suspicious transactions on your account contact the creditor or you bank and file an Identity Theft Statement.  This will help you notify all financial institutions and creditors of your identity theft.  It tells them that you did not create the debt or charges and gives them the information to start an investigation.  The Identity Theft Statement can be obtained from the CAFC website.

  • Notify credit card companies, banks and other financial institution and change all of your passwords – contact all credit card companies and banks where you have accounts that might have been affected. You then need to do the following:                                                    1. Close every account that might have been compromised. Request that it be processed as "closed at the consumer's request".
    2. Obtain replacement bank or credit card with a new account number and a new Personal Identification Number (PIN)
    3. Put a "stop payment" on any stolen cheques.
    4. Ask to have a password added to your account.

  • Notify Canada Post and utility and service providers - If you suspect that someone had your mail re-directed, notify Canada Post. Notify your service provider (telephone, cell phone, electricity, water, gas, etc.) of the identity fraud.  Ask that any new requests for service first be confirmed with you.   

  • Immigration Documents - If your immigration documents have been lost or stolen, or if you suspect that someone is fraudulently using your immigration documents, contact the department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada http://www.cic.gc.ca or 1-888-242-2100

  • Passport -If your passport is lost or stolen contact any Passport Canada office or Canadian government office abroad to report it and get a replacement.

  • Social Insurance Card If you suspect someone is using your Social Insurance Number (SIN) you should visit a Service Canada Centre and bring all necessary documents with you to prove fraud or misuse of your SIN. Also, bring an original identity document (your birth certificate or citizenship document). An official will review your information and provide you with assistance and guidance.

  • Notify Provincial agencies who may have issued your identity documents including birth certificate, driver’s license, health card etc.

For more information regarding identity theft visit the following websites:                          http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/victims-guide-victimes-eng.htm            http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/fraud-escroquerie/types/identity-identite/index-eng.htm

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About the Author

President/CEO Number Crunchers® Accounting Inc. Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.