What should I do if I become a victim?
If you are victim of identity theft or identity fraud, you should immediately take some basic steps to prevent further crimes from happening and to restore your credit and good name.
Navigating through the system as a victim can be time-consuming and confusing. This guide should help start you off in the right direction.
Collect your thoughts
Stay calm. Make a list of all the identification information that was lost or stolen. Check your filing cabinet for records of credit card numbers, bank account information and government identification. Create a chart to enter and track the steps taken and the information provided.
Track all communications
As you contact law enforcement, financial institution and other agencies, keep track of the action you’ve taken for future reference.
Obtain a copy of your credit report
Contact both major credit bureaus and let them know you have been a victim of identity fraud:
Request a copy of your credit bureau report – in certain instances, this report may be free of charge. Request that a “Fraud Warning” be placed on your credit file instructing creditors to contact you personally before opening new accounts in your name – these warnings remain on file for 6 years. Remember to contact and file fraud warnings with both bureaus.
Review your credit reports
Be wary of creditors who have opened accounts that you didn’t request, or creditors who have made inquiries on your credit report when you didn’t ask for credit. Contact each of these creditors and describe your identity theft case. Ask them to:
Contact your local police
Report the theft of your identification information to your local police force. Ensure that you are given a report number and record it for future reference. Banks and creditors sometimes need proof of the crime to erase debts created by identity theft. Please note, it is not the police force’s responsibility to recover money you’ve lost. Their function is to investigate criminal offences and lay charges when appropriate. Suspicious information found on your credit bureau report should be disclosed to the police.
Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC)
Report the theft or fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center by going to their website or by dialing 1-888-495-8501. The CACF is the central agency in Canada that collects information and criminal intelligence on all forms of mass marketing fraud, including advance fee fraud letters (e.g. West African fraud letters), Internet fraud, identity theft complaints and others. The CAFC does not conduct investigations but provides valuable assistance to law enforcement agencies all over the world by identifying connections among seemingly unrelated cases. Your information may provide the piece that completes the puzzle. For more information, please visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Review all of your bank and credit card statements
If you notice suspicious transactions on your credit card or bank statements, immediately contact the creditor or bank and file an Identity Theft Statement. The Identity Theft Statement will help you notify financial institutions, credit card issuers and other companies of your identity theft. It will tell them that you did not create the debt or charges in question and will give them the information they need to begin an investigation. Make as many copies of the Statement as you will need to notify all involved companies. The Identity Theft Statement can be accessed via the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. To print a copy, visit their website.
Notify credit card companies, banks and other financial institution and change all of your passwords
Call all credit card companies, creditors, banks and other financial institutions where you have accounts that may have been affected. Because it is vital to prevent any additional fraud from occurring, ask these institutions to help you to take the following steps:
Notify Canada Post and utility and service providers
If you suspect that someone had your mail re-directed, notify Canada Post. Notify your service provider (telephone, cell phone, electricity, water, gas, etc.) of the identity fraud. Ask that any new requests for service first be confirmed with you.