Identity Theft

If your personal information is stolen, criminals can use it in elaborate schemes such as identity theft or even insurance fraud. It is important that you know how to safe guard your identity to prevent this from happening.

Identity Theft & Fraud - Common Disasters - Insurance Brokers Association of ManitobaWhat is Identity Theft / Fraud?

Identity theft refers to the preparatory stage of acquiring and collecting someone else’s personal information for criminal purposes. As of January 8, 2010, Senate Bill S-4 became law, making it illegal to possess another person’s identity information for criminal purposes.

Identity fraud is the actual deceptive use of the identity information of another person (living or dead) in connection with various frauds (Example: impersonating another person and the misuse of debit card or credit card data).

Identity theft techniques can range from the unsophisticated, such as dumpster diving and mail theft, to more elaborate schemes. Technology, mainly the Internet, facilitates more elaborate schemes, such as skimming, phishing, and hacking as criminals gather profiles of potential victims. Computer spywares and viruses, designed to help thieves acquire personal information are increasingly common.. Victims of identity theft or fraud can experience financial loss and difficulty obtaining credit or restoring their reputations.

Protect Yourself

  • Identity thieves are often looking for your personal or financial information. This could be to access your bank accounts, apply for loans or credit cards, make purchases or to even obtain passports and receive government benefits.
  • These criminals seek personal information to impersonate you and access your bank accounts, secure new credit cards, make purchases and pursue other criminal activities.
  • Safeguard documents in your home or at a secure off-site location, such as a safety-deposit box. Some documents you should protect include:
    • Passports
    • Internet passwords
    • Bank account and social insurance numbers
    • Credit card information.
  • The best way to discover whether you have been a victim of identity theft is to monitor your financial accounts frequently and to check your credit report regularly for any unusual activities. If you receive calls from collection agencies about unfamiliar accounts, or if you applied for credit and were unexpectedly turned down, you should investigate further.
  • Prevention techniques include:
    • Identity theft can occur over the Internet or telephone, or via fax or regular mail. Therefore, be particularly wary of unsolicited e-mails, telephone calls or mail attempting to extract personal or financial information from you.
    • Ask yourself if you really need all of the identity documents you carry in your wallet or purse. Remove any you don’t need and keep them in a secure place instead.
    • Periodically check your credit reports, bank and credit card statements and report any irregularities promptly to the relevant financial institution and to the credit bureaus.
    • During transactions, it’s safer to swipe your cards yourself than it is to allow a cashier to do it for you. If you must hand over your card, never lose sight of it.
    • Always shield your personal identification number when using an ATM or a PIN pad.
    • Memorize all personal identification numbers for payment cards and telephone calling cards. Never write them on the cards.
    • Familiarize yourself with billing cycles for your credit and debit cards.
    • Make sure you shred personal and financial documents before putting them in the garbage.
    • When you change your address, make sure you notify the post office and all relevant financial institutions (example: bank and credit card companies).

How Insurance Can Help

Insurance companies offer coverage for identity theft. These policies may cover you and others living in the same household such as your spouse, relatives and any person under the age of 21 who are in your care. Children may still be covered while living temporarily away from home to attend a school, college or university.

Tips for Starting a Claim

Call your insurance broker. Many insurers and brokers have 24-hour claims services to take you information and start the claim process. Be sure to be as detailed as possible when providing information.

Keep track of all fraudulent purchases and make note of any letters or calls that you receive for credit which seem unusual or unrelated to your day-to-day living.

File a police report immediately and inform your bank and credit card companies of the possible identity theft.

For more information on what Identity Theft Coverage is available to you or to purchase insurance on your property, please speak with your local independent insurance broker.

A list of brokerages can be found at ibam.mb.ca/find-a-broker/.


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