Identity Theft


What Is Identity Theft?

Any personal information can be used by an identity thief to impersonate you. This includes your name, address, phone numbers, social insurance number (SIN), driver’s license number, date of birth, health care card number, credit card numbers, bank account and bank card numbers and other banking information, birth certificate information, and any personal identification numbers (PINs).

This information is used to obtain credit cards, to apply for loans, to open new bank accounts, and to redirect mail in your name without you knowing this has occurred.

How Do Identity Thieves Get Your Personal Information?

  • Steal your wallet or purse containing your identification and credit and debit cards.
  • Steal your mail, including your debit and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, telephone calling cards, and tax information.
  • Complete a change–of-address form to divert your mail to another location.
  • Rummage through your garbage or the garbage of businesses for which you work or with which you have transactions for personal data.
  • Surf your shoulder at ATMs to obtain PINs.
  • Access public-record Web sites.
  • Break into and enter your home.
  • Obtain personnel or customer files in your workplace.

How Do Identity Thieves use Your Personal Information?

  • Call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, ask to increase your credit limit and change the mailing address on your credit card account. The thief then runs up charges on your account. Because the bills are being sent to another address, it may take some time before you know there’s a problem.
  • Open a new credit card account using your name, date of birth, and SIN. When they use the credit card and don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
  • Establish phone or Internet service in your name.
  • Open a bank account in your name and write bad cheques on that account.
  • Counterfeit cheques or debit cards and drain your account.
  • Obtain credit in your name, including for car loans, credit cards, mortgages.

How Can You Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft?

  • If you have several debit cards and credit cards, carry only those that you need. Leave the others at home in a safe place.
  • Sign your cards immediately.
  • Don’t carry your SIN card or birth certificate with you. Keep them in a secure, safe place.
  • Cancel cards you don’t use.
  • Don’t attach or write your PIN or SIN on anything you are going to discard, such as transaction records or scraps of paper or on the card itself.
  • Shred any document that contains your debit card or credit card numbers or any personal information whatsoever before you discard it.
  • Don’t give personal information or account numbers to anyone until you have confirmed the identity of the person asking for it. You should also ask how the information will be used and whether it will be shared with anyone else. Ask if you have a choice about providing personal identifying information and, if you can, choose to keep it confidential.
  • Frequently check your credit report so you’re aware of any changes or unusual activity. Credit information can be obtained once a year at no charge from Equifax Canada, (hyperlink to 1-800-465-7166, or from Trans Union of Canada, (hyperlink to 1-800-663-9980.
  • Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with companies if your bills don’t arrive on time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address to cover their tracks.
  • Guard your mail. Deposit outgoing mail in post office boxes at your local post office. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery. Ensure mail is forwarded or rerouted if you move or change your mailing address.
  • Protect your computer with good firewall and antivirus software. Take advantage of technologies that enhance security and privacy when using the Internet, such as digital signatures, data encryption, and different ways of making the information anonymous.
  • Avoid posting personal information on publicly accessible Web sites and on online bulletin boards.
  • When you register for Web sites, use strong passwords, avoiding words that are easy to guess. Don’t use the same password for different sites, and don’t store your password in your computer.
  • Be wary of online offers from Web sites that you don’t know or trust.
  • Purchase a shredder for personal home use. This is becoming a popular strategy for indiviuals to ensure their discarded private documents cannot be retrieved from the trash and used fraudulently.

What Should You Do If You Suspect That You Are A Victim Of Identity Theft?

  • Call your branch immediately if you suspect that you are the victim of identity theft or if there is unusual activity on any of your accounts. Bayview can provide advice on what to do with your Bayview credit card, transaction, and investment accounts.
  • Call the police and file a report. Ask for a copy of the police report and for the police file number.
  • Obtain a copy of your credit bureau report. If you see credit inquiries on your report that you didn’t authorize, have a fraud alert placed on your credit bureau report. You can do this by contacting Equifax Canada at 1-800-465-7166 or Trans Union of Canada at 1-800-663-9980.
  • Contact each credit grantor that has allowed a fraudulent account to be opened in your name and tell them you did not open that account. Have them close those accounts.
  • Change your debit and credit card and account PINs and your BayLine and BayWeb online and telephone banking personal access codes (PACs) immediately. Use new PACs or PINs when you open new accounts.
  • Contact Canada Post if someone is diverting your mail.
  • Document all the contacts you make, along with dates, names, and phone numbers.
  • Review all recent transactions on your accounts to ensure that there hasn’t been a request for a change of address or a change of PIN.

For more information on identity theft, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) or the Government of Canada web sites or review the Consumer Identity Theft Kit at the Consumer Measures Committee website.