Give Thanks For Your Identity

16 November 2015

This Thanksgiving, countless families will crowd around tables covered in steaming platters and reflect on what they are thankful for. Traditionally, the target of this practice has been expressing gratitude for a year’s bountiful harvest. Over time, as families have become less dependent on their own farm for sustenance, we have taken to giving thanks for the support of our families and friends, or any other important part of our lives that we tend to take for granted throughout the year. This year, as you think about the parts of your life you rely on every day, consider giving thanks for your identity.

Many people don’t give much thought to the security of their identity until it is compromised. However, for all of this confidence, identity theft is not uncommon. Last year, 16 percent of Canadians fell victim to identity theft online, up from 6 percent the year before, according to the Toronto Sun. In a separate survey, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada found that 32 percent of all Canadians have incurred some sort of financial fraud in their lives.

Giving thanks for your identity means more than simply appreciating its security, however, it means making strides to ensure you will have it in the future, rather than continuing to chalk it up to luck. Let this Thanksgiving serve as a reminder that you have the power to actively protect your identity. To get you started, keep these safe habits in mind:

  • Be on the lookout for phishing emails: Don’t open files, click on links or download programs you receive from strangers. Opening a file from someone you don’t know could expose your system to a computer virus or spyware that captures your passwords or other information you type.
  • Stay sharp to avoid scams: If you give out your personal or financial information, make sure you know who is getting it. Don’t share personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the internet unless you’ve initiated the contact yourself or know who you’re dealing with. If a company that claims to have an account with you sends an email asking for personal information, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, type the company name into your web browser, go to its site and contact it through customer service. Or, call the customer service number listed on your account statement to confirm the communication is legitimate.
  • Shred unnecessary documents: While people are increasingly vigilant about their security online, physical data theft is still common. Avoid placing any documents that contain your personal information, such as credit offers, insurance forms, checks, bank statements, etc., directly into the garbage. Instead, destroy them with a cross cut shredder first.
  • Keep an eye on your credit report: Regularly checking your credit report can help you detect one of the most common forms of identity theft: credit fraud Be sure to review your credit histories with both credit bureaus, as inaccurate activity could show up on one but not the other. To be alerted to certain kinds of suspicious activity as soon as it happens, sign up for a credit monitoring service that can act as a second set of eyes watching over your financial information.

Developing these habits can help empower you to stay vigilant so that next year you can give thanks once again for your secure identity.

For more information on how to protect your identity, or to sign up for a credit monitoring service, contact Identity Guard today.