There you go, minding your own business. Doing things like you’ve always done, not hurting a fly. And then one fine day, when the sun is shining and the birds are singing – BAM! Someone swoops in and steals your identity.
Think it won’t happen to you? Think again.
Identity theft is at an all-time high in Canada. In fact, it’s the most serious, non-violent crime and fastest growing type of fraud in North America, increasing steadily and setting records in the number of data breaches recorded. In 2015, more than 17,000 identity theft cases were reported in Canada, with a loss of more than $10 million.
I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.
So, we know it’s a problem – one that Canadians simply aren’t paying enough attention to. However, it’s actually pretty easy to safeguard yourself and your loved ones against identity theft; there are simple steps you can take to ensure you’re not a victim.
1. CHOOSE ATMS CAREFULLY – If you need to get cash, avoid bank machines kiosks anywhere other than in a bank lobby, as they may be less likely to be monitored by video surveillance and more likely to house ABM and ATM skimmers (devices that help thieves capture your account data and PIN number when you use your card).
2. TRAVEL LIGHT – Pickpockets are more common than you think! Especially if you’re travelling over March Break, make sure you only pack essential ID and banking cards in your wallet. Portable scanners now allow thieves to extract personal info from your cards just by pressing up against you and scanning the contents of your wallet/pocket.
3. ID CHECK – Instead of signing the back of your credit cards, write ‘See photo ID’ to ensure cashiers check and cross-reference your identity with every purchase made. This extra step may tack on a few additional seconds, but could save you a lifetime of stress.
4. PASSWORD PROTECT – Never put passwords or personal data such as your mother’s maiden name or pin codes into your cell phone for easy access, as you’re also giving criminals the same easy access. Plus, think of all your passwords that have your mother’s maiden name as the primary security question?!
5. BEFORE YOU GO – If planning to be away during March Break, put a hold on your mail (if away for a week or more), or ask a friend to pick up your mail daily. Nothing says “no one home,” like an overflowing mailbox.
6. DON’T GET TOO SOCIAL – We live in a society that likes to share every moment as it happens, especially when travelling. It may be wise to avoid the “Enjoying Cuba for March Break” green with envy post, as this information on social networking sites like Facebook could help notify more than friends that no one will be home.
7. BILL ME – Knowing your mailing/billing cycle is important – anytime. Keep a close watch on your bills (especially e-bills that are less often checked) and immediately report any suspicious activity – this includes if you stopped receiving any bills or a particular magazine, as someone may have changed the address.
8. SHRED IT – Shred any document that contains your personal information on it, these include your name or address, and never toss unsolicited credit card applications into the trash without shredding them first. You may have been pre-approved, giving a thief ample opportunity access to do some shopping of their own.
Most of the above items may seem like common sense, however, I can tell you from first hand experience that many Canadians DO NOT own a personal shredder! I’ve worked with Fellowes Canada for many years now, and I’m shocked at the number of friends and followers who profess to understand the severity of identity theft, and yet still toss their statements, bills and subscriptions in the trash without first shredding the documents.
Here’s what you need to do. Visit Staples Canada, where you can find a wide variety of Fellowes Canada shredders at great prices. You’ll find one that’s right for you! My previous model, the Fellowes Powershred 69Cb, has been gifted to my mom to make way for a more robust model, the Fellowes AutoMax 200C 200-Sheet Auto-Feed Shredder.
Since I run a home business, I go through scores of paperwork and I don’t always have the time (or desire) to tackle my paper shredding. The AutoMax by Fellowes is the first, truly walk away line of shredders.
With Fellowes proprietary AccuFeed System, the shredder does the work for me, so I can focus on other priorities. I simply load, lock and walk away. The Auto Reverse feature stops and reverses paper if a jam occurs, and SilentShred (exclusive to Fellowes) offers ultra-quiet performance. I can shred staples, paper clips, credit cards, CDs/DVDs and, of course, junk mail, helping me to keep my identity protected from fraudsters.
I know we can all agree that identity theft is an incredibly important subject – one that we need to discuss publicly, more often. I’d like to invite my readers to join the #FellowesProtects Twitter Party this Wednesday, March 2nd at 8PM EST. We’ll give you the 411 on identity theft and, of course, share ways to help protect yourself.
To thank you for attending, we’ll be giving away HUNDREDS in prizing, including personal shredders and prize packs from our exclusive partner, Staples Canada. Don’t miss it!
Click here to view Fellowes Canada shredders at Staples Canada.