Protect Your Personal Information

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 9:10 am, Posted by Absolute Destruction

If you’ve been reading the news lately, then you know that cases of identity theft happen right here at home just as often as they do abroad. In many ways, the last 12 months can be seen as a year of identity fraud, and it’s Canada’s fastest rising non-violent crime. It’s also a year in which countless people have fallen victim to elaborate scams, who learnt too late the importance of proper document disposal.

The GTA is no stranger to identity theft. It’s been an ongoing and problematic issue affecting thousands of residents. In April of 2015, there was one incident in particular that rocked the area – and the nation at large. Police caught 33 people involved in a cross-country fraud ring that affected not only those living in the GTA but Halton, Hamilton, as well as communities in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia. In what the police an “ID lab” the culprits defrauded over $2 million from individuals and banks.

Their success was due to their diversity. They targeted online banking services by issuing malware and using phishing techniques to steal personal information. Once they had a name and contact information, they were able to order new cheques, bank cards, and even IDs for the stolen names to their location. With these pieces of information in their hands, they had access to real people’s bank accounts to drain their savings and use their credit as they wished. They could also create additional false accounts and wrack up serious debts – money that the police doubt the victims will ever recover.

More recently, the Toronto Police uncovered another identity theft ring in February of this year. The fraud lab was located at Bloor and Parliament Street in the downtown core of the city, where criminals used the information found on stolen mail, financial statements, paycheques, and tax slips to open up new cellphone, credit, and payday loan accounts. As the investigation is still ongoing, there’s no way to know how much money these thieves defrauded from individuals.

Any amount of money, however, is too much, which is why it’s so important to keep your personal information safe at all times. When on the Internet, be careful with whom you share your data. Only ever log onto secure networks and only provide information to websites that you can trust. You should also be wary of the email that you receive. Phishing scams will claim to be the CRA or a Canadian financial institution and request that you verify your information by clicking a link. Neither the Government of Canada nor any bank will ask you to do this. If you’re ever suspicious, give the organization a call and verify if they sent it.

In terms of your physical information, you should be very careful with how you send, receive, store, and destroy it. Be mindful of when you’re expecting any financial statements, bills, or new cards in the mail, so you’re aware if anything is late or missing completely. Keep statements, invoices, bills, and receipts for however long you need them for your records. When you’re ready to dispose of them, make sure you employ our mobile shredding services to ensure they go through complete destruction.  You can schedule an appointment as often as your routine requires it – whether that’s once a week, once a month, or once a year.

Though identity theft has never been more widespread than it has been now, you can stay safe from those who wish to cause you harm. Stay attentive and get your information destroyed by the professionals. It’s the best way to keep your information out of local identity theft rings.

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