Keep your identity yours

Mail and recycling are two of most common ways of scamming identities

  • Nov. 3, 2011 1:00 p.m.

Ridge Meadows RCMP and the provincial government are warning residents to protect themselves against identity theft.

According to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, anyone can be a target for identity theft.

The first step in preventing it from happening is to understand how thieves try and intercept your information.

Mail and recycling are two of the most common sources. Not only will identity thieves steal mail that might contain personal information, they can use that information to fraudulently order a redirection of future mail.

“Think carefully about the contents of the documents you toss in your recycling, especially if you live in a multi-unit building where recycling is centralized and out in the open,” the ministry says. “If those documents contain personal information about you, your family, business clients, anyone, it’s valuable to an identity thief.”

Ridge Meadows RCMP recommends residents collect all their mail regularly to prevent mail theft, and check it for bank and credit card information.

“Criminals take bank cards.”

Identity thieves also break into places where you’ve made purchases with your credit card,  like a gas station, and take that information for themselves and use it, RCMP said.

“That is very hard to protect yourself against.”

Other tips for preventing identity theft:

• never throw away bank records or other documents in a readable form – shred them instead;

• never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call;

• never share your PIN, online banking access codes or other passwords with anyone;

• review your bank account and credit card activity regularly;

• reconcile your statements as soon as you receive them so you can notify your bank or lender of discrepancies immediately.

• follow up with the post office if you do not receive mail you were  expecting or have an unusual lapse in receiving mail;

• ensure your mailboxes are secure, especially if you live in a multi-unit building.