Your Credit Report and Identity Theft

Your Credit Report & Identity Theft

Do you know what your credit score is?  Your credit score can look something like a school report… excellent, good, needs improvement!  One of the benefits of working with a mortgage agent is that we can provide you with a Credit Check and Analysis, pro bono.  Contact me for more information.

Your credit report and credit score can change at any time, and it's important you know exactly where each stands. Not only are these two crucial financial management tools, but they can help you watch for the early signs of identity theft. Did you know that Identity Theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in Canada today?   Monitoring your credit report and credit score is one of the best ways to spot the early signs of identity theft. 

So what is Identity Theft?  Identity theft occurs when an individual steals another person's identity and impersonates that individual. By using basic personal information like name, address and social insurance number, identity thieves open credit card accounts, lease or buy cars, rent apartments or even engage in criminal activity using the stolen name.  Millions of dollars a year are lost and thousands of victims are impacted.  Scroll down below where I have highlighted some recommendations on how you can protect yourself from Identity Theft.

There are a number of reasons why it is so important to know what your credit score is and also exactly what is being reported on your credit bureau.   On a daily basis I see incorrect information reported on credit bureaus as well as identity theft exposure.  Either of these can negatively impact your score and your ability to obtain credit in the future.  It is so important that you stay vigilant and check your credit report on a regular basis… I recommend as a minimum once per year, but if you have already been a victim of identity theft or credit exposure, then quarterly checks would be more prudent.

Preventing Identity Theft 

There are a number of ways to protect yourself outlined below, but My No. 1 Tip is:  DO NOT KEEP YOUR SIN CARD ON YOU AT ALL!      

Someone having your SIN number gives them huge potential to not just steal your identity but create havoc on your life so protect it at all times!  Did you know, that legally the only times you need to provide your SIN is to your employer, for income-tax purposes and government income (CPP, WCB etc.), and to financial institutions where you are earning interest or income (RRSP’s, TFSA’s etc.).  Please protect it at all times and leave it at home in a safe place to access it only when you need it.

You can limit the potential for fraud by remembering a few key tips:

1.  When using your credit cards:

  • Carry only the identification and credit cards you need when traveling, whether locally or abroad. Do not carry your cards in your cheque book
  • If your cheque book is lost or stolen, call your bank and inform them of the cheque numbers missing
  • Sign your credit cards in permanent ink as soon as you receive them
  • When making a purchase, keep your cards in view at all times; ensure you take your card back as soon as a transaction swipe has been completed with your card
  • Do not sign a blank charge slip
  • Always save your receipts, never leave them behind
  • Avoid saying your account number aloud so that others can hear