According to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, every year thousands of people are victims of identity theft. Identity theft can lead to a variety of headaches; however, one of the most common involves credit card fraud.
The sooner you act, the better. If you suspect or know that you are a victim of identity theft, there are steps you can take that will help you keep a limit on the damages, and help prevent any further fraud or theft.
1. Stay Calm And Know You're Not Alone
According to the RCMP, fraud in all of its various forms, costs Canadians more than $10 billion a year. You are not alone, and anyone can be a victim.
2. Don't Be Shy, Report It
Protect your money and credit by contacting:
- Your financial institution(s)
- Your credit card issuer(s)
- Canada's two national credit bureaus. Ask for a copy of your credit report from both, and ask them to put a fraud alert on it.
3. Review Your Credit Reports
Look over your reports carefully, and call creditors who opened accounts that you didn't ask for or who made inquiries on your credit history for no apparent reason. Ask them to:
- Close any accounts you didn't open
- Reject new accounts you didn't request
4. Call The Police
Contact your local police force and file a report with them. Get a copy of the report as well. Don't forget to tell them of anything suspicious you found while reviewing your credit reports.
5. Call The Organizations That Were Also Tricked By The Fraudster
If you know which organizations were also tricked by the thief, those who unwittingly provided the thief unauthorized credit, money, information, or goods and services in your name, contact them too. Cancel or close whatever the thief bought, opened or subscribed to; and find out what they're doing about the fraud (have they opened an investigation, how will you be reimbursed for losses)
6. Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Report the identity theft or fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre; they keep track of all this type of stuff and can also provide you with some additional advice and guidance.
7. Keep A Call Log
Keep a record of the folks you've called to report the fraud. Which banks, credit card issuers, credit reporting agencies, law enforcement, or other organizations have you alerted? Who did you speak to and when? What are their contact details?
It's important to take meticulous notes on your conversations too; you never know when you may need to refer to it at a later date.
8. Monitor Your Progress
Getting everything resolved will likely require you being organized and methodical. Create a system that lets you track postal mail, documents and deadlines.
- Traditional mail: Send letters registered as this will give you proof of mailing and/or delivery.
- Create a filing system: Never give up your original documents, send only copies.
- Make a timeline: List important dates and deadlines. When do you have to follow-up? When do you expect a response by?
Overall, it may take some time to get everything straightened out, but it will get straightened out. For tips on how to prevent it from happening again, check out the KANETIX.ca article, "How To Avoid Being A Victim of Credit Card Fraud".