How can you protect yourself?
A good starting point is to put the protection of your personal
information on the same level of importance and rigor as your personal
health or your financial affairs and be as vigilant. You need to be
the CEO of your identity.
Much like an annual check up with your doctor, or review with your
financial advisor, you can undertake a regular personal security
review. An easy way to start is by:
- Understanding your online/social media presence and what it
tells others about you.
- Obtaining and reviewing your credit
report once a year, and if you notice any errors or concerning
information, report it immediately.
- Review all your banking
and credit card statements regularly to ensure there are no
unauthorized transactions. If you find any,
especially a small one, report it immediately to your
- Create strong passwords and security questions that are
unique to you and change them regularly – every 3 months!
- If you have authorizations for others, double check your
instructions or limits on use and have confirmations in place to
mitigate unauthorized behavior.
When you are informed you had personal information stolen, what
do you do?
If you become a victim of a data breach, believe your personal
information has been taken or see unauthorized transactions on any of
your bank accounts or credit cards:
- contact your financial institution or the companies where your
account has been compromised.
- contact Canada’s two main
credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, report the incident, and ask the
credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report. As a
precaution, lenders will need to contact you and confirm your
identity before they approve any application for credit
- contact your local police to file a complaint.
The more personalized your security measures are, the harder they
will be for someone else to bypass. More information is available from
the Government of Canada.
To help keep your personal information safe:
- Only carry the identity documents you need in your wallet –
like your driver’s licence and health card.
- Keep your
personal identity information private, including your Social
Insurance Number, passport and other important information in a safe
place, not in your wallet.
- Use multi-factor authentication
(MFA) with your devices when accessing personal information. MFA
focuses on things are unique to you:
- What you know: A PIN,
password or security question
- What you have: Your phone or
- What you are: Your fingerprint, your face, your eyes
or your voice
- Store personal documents, mortgage
information and other financial information in a secure place.
- Never reply to an email or phone call asking you to provide
- Secure your Internet connections. Do
not use public wi-fi.
- Set alerts for purchases being made
through your debit card and credit card providers – this gives you
immediate information about transactions made on your accounts
- Safeguard personal information in your home, especially if you
are having service work done there, employ outside help, or have a
- Protect your mail. Bring in your mail daily.
Forward or re-route your mail if you move, change your mailing
address, or are planning to be away for an extended period.
- Shred all documents you are discarding, including pre-approved
credit applications received in your name, insurance forms, bank
cheques and statements, and other financial information. An identity
thief can easily pick through your garbage or recycling.
Taking these personal information security steps more frequently
means you’ll build the habit, and it will feel easier the more often
you do it. A little bit of caution can add to your security and peace
of mind as you become the CEO of your personal identity management.