Shredded identity theft paper

Identity Theft in BC

Every week hundreds of people fall victim to identity theft.

Identity theft is the unauthorized collection and use of your personal information, usually for criminal purposes.

Your personal information can be used to open credit card and bank accounts, redirect mail, establish cell phone service, rent vehicles or accommodation.

If this happens, you could be left with the bills, charges, bad cheques, and taxes.

Protect Yourself

  • Be careful about sharing personal information or letting it circulate freely. Only provide the bare minimum.
  • When you are asked to provide personal information, ask how it will be used, why it is needed, who will be sharing it and how it will be safeguarded.
  • Don’t give your credit card number on the telephone, by Email, or to a voice mailbox, unless you know the person on the other end or it was you that initiated the communication.
  • Choose difficult passwords — not your mother’s maiden name. Memorize them, change them often. Don’t write them down and leave them in your wallet, or some equally obvious place.
  • Be careful what you throw out. Burn or shred personal financial information, receipts, insurance forms, etc. Insist that businesses you deal with do the same.

Don’t be cajoled, intimidated or manipulated into providing personal information. If your gut tells you something is not right, listen to it. Your decision not to provide this information may save you thousands of dollars and hours of aggravation and grief.

Erosion of privacy rights?

We are being watched. Recording devices are everywhere: From street corners and retail outlets to satellites in the sky. But did you know the car you drive may be spying on you too?

If you are driving a vehicle built after 1993, chances are it contains an “Event Data Recorder” (“EDR”).

The device records speed and braking in the event of an accident and deployment of the airbag. Newer devices can record whether the driver’s seatbelt was fastened at the time the airbag deployed. You may have one of these devices installed in your car and not know about it. What’s more, your insurance company may be able to use the data contained in the device to contradict what you say about an accident.

Each attempt to gain access to personal data or information is a potential threat to privacy.

Is this a further erosion of our legal rights, another spy in our private lives? Or is it reasonable for the police or insurance companies to use this information when investigating an accident?

The answer will depend upon the facts of a particular case. If you have a claim with an insurance company and are concerned about privacy issues, consult a lawyer.