No one even likes to entertain the idea of being the victim of identity theft. But, unfortunately, people have their identities compromised every day. The good news, however, is that, if fraudulent activity occurs under your name, there are immediate steps you can take to minimize the potential damage.
Steps to Take with Dealing with Identity Theft
The most important thing to do is act immediately. The minute you discover that there has been a breach in your account security, get on the phone and start the recovery process.
- Report your discovery to your financial institutions.
Whether your account information or your actual card has been stolen, you have to make sure that you prevent the thief from gaining access to your funds. While it will be inconvenient, it will probably be necessary to put a freeze on your bank accounts. You should also cancel all credit cards and have replacement cards issued.
- Call your local police.
After you've filed a report, carefully document the report number that you will be given. You will need this number for any correspondence you have that relates to the theft.
- Contact the two primary credit reporting agencies.
This is important because you will want to protect your credit history as much as possible. The number for TransUnion Canada (www.tuc.ca) is 1-866-525-0262. If you are in Quebec, you should call 1-877-713-3393. To reach Equifax Canada (www.equifax.ca), call 1-866-779-6440. Ask both bureaus to send you a copy of your credit report and discuss with them the possibility of having a fraud alert placed on your file.
- Do you need to replace any of your ID cards?
You may find yourself in this situation if your entire purse or briefcase has been stolen. To have new ID cards issued, call 1-800-O-Canada. You will be connected with an agent who will direct you to the appropriate federal and provincial organization to replace each of your cards.
- Has your mail been tampered with?
To report mail fraud, contact Canada Post at www.canadapost.ca or call 1-800-267-1177.
- Call all relevant companies.
If the identity thief has received unauthorized credit, money, goods or services in your name, you must contact the companies who provided these things. Ask them to please investigate the fraudulent activity and to cancel and/or close any affected cards or accounts.
- Do you require further advice on privacy issues?
If you would like to learn more about identity theft and how you can prevent future issues, contact the Privacy Commissioner of Canada at 1-800-282-1376 or visit their website at www.privcom.gc.ca.
- Assist in the effort to stop identity theft in Canada.
It will be incredibly helpful if you report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC). This centre gathers information and intelligence about identity theft and provides advice and assistance to victims. They can be reached at 1-888-495-8501 or at www.antifraudcentre.ca.
If you are thorough and methodical in your recovery efforts, you can prevent this breach in your personal security from having a long-lasting impact on your credit history and financial profile. Then, moving forward, take preventative measures to protect your accounts and identity by changing your online passwords frequently, only purchasing online from reputable companies and checking your credit reports regularly.
Recovering from Damaged Credit
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