A local resident has lost nearly $300,000 in a suspected case of identity theft.
On Nov. 25 the victim discovered funds from their home equity account had been transferred to another account not opened by the victim. A second transaction was discovered on Nov. 28.
The total loss is estimated at about $297,000.
The Norfolk County OPP is continuing to investigate, but it appears that personal and financial information of the victim may have been compromised.
“As problems like identity theft become more prevalent, now more than ever residents of Norfolk County need to ensure that they secure and protect their personal information, this is key to prevention,” Inspector Joseph Varga, Norfolk County OPP Detachment Commander, said in a media release.
The investigation is continuing.
The OPP provided the public with some information that will assist in deterring Identity theft.
Signs of Identity Theft
The signs can be many, but typical indicators that your identity is being used include:
- A creditor informs you that an application for credit was received with your name and address, which you did not apply for.
- Telephone calls or letters state that you have been approved or denied by a creditor that you never applied to.
- You receive credit card statements or other bills in your name, which you did not apply for.
- You no longer receive credit card statements or you notice that not all of your mail is delivered.
- A collection agency informs you they are collecting for a defaulted account established with your identity and you never opened the account.
If you suspect that your personal information has been used and misappropriated to commit fraud or theft, take action immediately and keep a record of your conversations and correspondence. The following basic actions are appropriate in almost every case.
- Start a log of dates, person(s) that you spoke with and exactly what they said.
Contact the fraud departments of each major credit bureaus. Equifax: 1-800- 465-7166 and TransUnion Canada: 1-800-663-9980. Request that a “Fraud Alert” be placed in your files. At the same time order copies of your credit reports.
- Contact the fraud department of creditors for any accounts that have been opened or tampered with fraudulently. This may include credit card companies, phone companies, banks and other lenders.
- File a report with your local Police or the Police in the community where the identity theft took place. Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is currently central sourcing all pertinent information on Identity Theft to identity trends and patterns, information is also used to assist law enforcement agencies in possible investigations.
Remember: There is no reason to be paranoid; there’s just reason to be careful. If someone wants desperately to target you, they can probably get a lot of information about you, so you just need to minimize the criminal’s opportunities to get that information. You can make yourself a harder target and that’s the best defense. If you are a victim, do not panic, you will not be out any money. The losses will be attributed to the banks and or companies associated with the fraud.
Minimize the Risk
While you probably can’t prevent identity theft entirely, you can minimize your risk.
Identity theft is on the rise and it can happen to anyone. It can happen to you. By managing your personal information wisely, cautiously and with an awareness of the issue, you can help guard against identity theft.
Tips to reduce risk of Identity Theft:
- Before you reveal any personally identifying information, find out how it will be used and if it will be shared.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time.
- Guard your mail. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery. Ensure mail is forwarded or re-routed if you move or change your mailing address.
- Put passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SIN or your phone number.
- Minimize the identification information and number of cards you carry.
- Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the internet unless you have initiated the contact or know whom you’re dealing with.
- Keep items with personal information in a safe place. An identity thief will pick through your garbage or recycling bins. Be sure to tear or shred receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements and credit offers you get in the mail.
- Give your SIN only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.
- Don’t carry your SIN card; leave it in a secure place.