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Identity Theft: Could it Happen to You?

Maybe you never opened that account, or ordered an additional card, but someone else did....someone who used your name and personal information to commit fraud. When an imposter co-opts your name, your Social Insurance Number (SIN), your credit card number, or some other piece of your personal information for their use - short when someone appropriates your personal information without your knowledge - it's a crime, pure and simple.

Are you a Victim?

The signs can be many, but typical indicators that your identity is being used include:

* A creditor informs you that an application for credit was received with your name and address, which you did not apply for.
* Telephone calls or letters state that you have been approved or denied by a creditor that you never applied to.
* You receive credit card statements or other bills in your name, which you did not apply for.
* You no longer receive credit card statements or you notice that not all of your mail is delivered.
* A collection agency informs you they are collecting for a defaulted account established with your identity and you never opened the account.

Identity Theft Statement - What is it?

If you have been a victim of identity theft, the Identity Theft Statement helps you notify financial institutions, credit card issuers and other companies that the identity theft occurred, tell them that you did not create the debt or charges, and give them information they need to begin an investigation. Make as many copies of the Statement as you will need to notify all affected companies. You will need Acrobat Reader to view the statement. Acrobat Reader download

To print a copy of the Identity Theft Statement click here.

It you suspect that your personal information has been hijacked and misappropriated to commit fraud or theft, take action immediately and keep a record of your conversations and correspondence. The following basic actions are appropriate in almost every case.

* Start a log of dates, person(s) that you spoke with and exactly what they said.
* Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus. Equifax: (866) 828-5961, for lost or stolen identification press 1, if you are a victim of identity theft press 2.
Trans Union: (800) 663-9980 except
Quebec residents (877) 713-3393.

* Request that a "Fraud Alert" be placed in your files. At the same time order copies of your credit reports.
* Contact the fraud department of creditors for any accounts that have been opened or tampered with fraudulently. This may include credit card companies, phone companies, banks and other lenders.
* File a report with your local Police or the Police in the community where the identity theft took place.
* Contact PhoneBusters National Call Centre. PhoneBusters is currently central sourcing all pertinent information on Identity Theft to identity trends and patterns, information is also used to assist law enforcement agencies in possible investigations.

Remember: There is no reason to be paranoid; there's just reason to be careful. If someone wants desperately to target you, they can probably get a lot of information about you -- so you just need to minimize the criminal's opportunities to get that information. You can make yourself a harder target and that the best defense. If you are a victim, do not panic, you will not be out any money. The losses will be attributed to the banks and or companies associated with the fraud.

Minimize The Risk

While you probably can't prevent identity theft entirely, you can minimize your risk. Identity theft is on the rise and it can happen to anyone. It can happen to you. By managing your personal information wisely, cautiously and with an awareness of the issue, you can help guard against identity theft.

* Tips on how to minimize your risk.