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Identity Theft

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your identifying information, such as your name, birth date, social insurance number, drivers licence or credit card number to commit fraud or other crimes.

Having your identity stolen can be difficult to fix. Your reputation and your credit rating will need to be repaired, which is sometimes difficult to do. The best solution is to take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Prevention Tips

Credit and Charge Cards

  • don’t carry unnecessary credit and charge cards
  • store lesser used cards in a safe place and only carry those you use the most in your wallet
  • cancel cards you no longer use
  • the more cards you have issued in your name, the greater risk that one or more will be compromised
  • make arrangements to pick up new or replacement cards at your bank instead of home delivery
  • scrutinize your financial statements and notify the issuer of any unauthorized transactions; you have a contractual obligation to challenge any unauthorized debits on your statements within a certain period of time
  • check your credit history once a year for accuracy; if someone has applied for credit in your name, the credit report should reflect this

Social Insurance Cards

  • you do not need to carry your Social Insurance card as it is only legally required by your employer for tax purposes and to comply with federal laws under several other situations; some financial institutions may ask for it when you open an account and/or to facilitate the issue of tax slips
  • see the Privacy Commissioner of Canada for more detailed information about the need to disclose or produce your Social Insurance Number

ATM / Debit Cards

  • be extra cautious when you temporarily part with your ATM or debit card, such as at restaurants or gas stations, as they are prime locations for “skimming,” in which a second electronic record of your card information is made; make sure the card you get back is yours
  • protect your PIN when you enter it into the terminal; be aware if anyone is close enough to you to see your number
  • memorize your PIN and never write it down; the number should be difficult to guess


  • if depositing outgoing mail in a red letter box, check the pick-up time posted on the mailbox; if it’s not until the next day, consider using another mailbox or taking your mail to a postal outlet
  • if you have an outside mailbox, consider installing a slot in your door for mail
    remove all mail as soon as possible from common lobby mailboxes if you live in an apartment or condo; challenge people you don’t know in the lobby and don’t let unauthorized people into the building
  • keep track of billing cycles and if your bank and credit card financial statements or phone bills don’t arrive, contact the issuer; your mail could have been stolen or someone may have even had your mail re-directed through Canada Post; consider picking up financial statements from your bank
  • consider getting online statements from any agencies that offer them, such as banks, BC Hydro, phone companies, etc.
  • if you change your address, submit a change of address card to Canada Post and notify any agency which sends you billing information


  • invest in a shredder when disposing of old financial and personal documents
    ensure pre-approved credit card applications are completely unusable and
  • unreadable if you are not using a shredder
  • use caution with what you put in your recycling box


  • make photocopies front and back of your identification and keep them in a safe place
  • if you lose any I.D. or believe it has been stolen, notify the issuer, file a police report and obtain a police file number

Personal Information

  • be wary of canvassers, telemarketers or people posing as police officers, who try to obtain personal information about you
  • no legitimate financial institution or organization would ever ask you confidential details, such as your credit card or social insurance numbers or your bank balance
  • get on the National Do Not Call List and reduce your calls from telemarketers


  • install firewall software protection to prevent unauthorized access to your computer
  • personal information should not be stored on your hard drive, where hackers can access it; use discs, memory sticks or external hard drives, but store them away from your computer

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Report a Fraud

Some cases of fraud can be reported online - see Fraud Reporting Information.

Types of Identification and DocumentsThat Can Be Used for Identity Theft

  • credit card
  • ATM / debit card
  • social insurance card
  • birth certificate
  • driver's licence
  • passport
  • membership card
  • BC CareCard
  • student or work visa
  • BC I.D.
  • student card
  • calling card
  • credit report
  • phone bill
  • utility bill
  • bank statements

Online Identity Theft

In today's world, you need to use caution when navigating the World Wide Web, as identity theft is common online.

Learn how to protect yourself on the internet from online identity theft.