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What Is Identity Theft & How Can I Protect Myself?

What Is Identity Theft & How Can I Protect Myself?

With more of our lives being lived online, identity theft is an increasing risk we all have to contend with. Yet there are some very simple things you can do to protect against it.


Our Welland auto loan team have shared some of their favourite techniques for avoiding identity theft.


First, let’s outline what identity theft is and what it can do.


What is identity theft?


Identity theft, as the name implies, is when someone ‘steals’ your identity so they can impersonate you. They use it to apply for credit in your name and pocket the cash, leaving you to clear up the mess.


Identity theft can enable someone to:


  • Get credit cards
  • Open loan accounts or bank accounts
  • Write bad cheques with that bank account or max out the overdraft
  • Run up huge debts and then file for bankruptcy
  • Sign up for phone contracts, car leases, car rentals and other services


All in your name.


How to protect yourself from identity theft


The key thing is to not be afraid of identity theft but just be aware of it. There are some simple things you can do to minimize the risk of falling victim.


Shred all your old documents


Never trash your old bank statements, government paperwork or anything with your information on it. Shred it or burn it.


Never click an email link


Never click links in emails unless you know who they are from. Phishing is incredibly common and some of the emails used look completely genuine. Get out of the habit of clicking email links and you’ll avoid 90% of identity theft attempts.


Protect your devices


Use software firewalls, antivirus programs and malware scanners on all your devices. There are lots of good ones out there for free. Protect your devices and you protect yourself.


Check ATMS before using them


Check the ATM before you insert your card. Look for anything that doesn’t look right, look for tiny cameras pointing at the keypad, look for strange devices in front of the card slot and look for anyone hovering around the ATM who shouldn’t be there.


Avoid open WiFi


If you like working in the coffee shop or fly often, try to avoid open WiFi or use a VPN. A VPN is software installed on your device that encrypts all your traffic. Only with one of these can you safely use open WiFi.


Check your credit report regularly


Checking your credit report should alert you to any activity, whether you authorized it or not. You are entitled to free credit reports once a year so schedule them with the two credit bureaus. Other financial products can also monitor the report and alert you to any changes.


Again, we don’t want anyone to be afraid of identity theft. We just want you to be aware. Given how much influence our credit scores have over our lives, we have to protect it!


When you’re ready for a car loan, get in touch with the Welland car loan experts at Northway Ford for great deals on auto finance.


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