This post is sponsored by Capital One Canada.
My daughter is six years old and sometimes takes great joy in imitating her older sister, copying her words and mannerisms in that age-old game of copycat, infuriating the older sister. Every day we see people copying the work, photos, or style of others. Whether either situation is a compliment is debatable but, at the very least, we can say these instances of copycats are harmless. When it isn’t flattering, funny or cute, is when you become a victim of identity theft in the real world.
I’ve read about identity theft online, but haven’t had a personal experience with it myself (thank goodness!) until it happened to a family member of mine. A millennial relative had recently moved to a big city away from her family and I wanted to send her a little something in the mail. As she had recently moved, I also sent her a quick text to confirm the mailing address. Unfortunately, she didn’t pay for mail forwarding and her mail was then left in the building’s mail room which was accessible to all residents. We know where this story is going, right?
Fast forward a year later and a collection agency began contacting her for arrears in payments (4 months’ worth) on a $36,000 vehicle she did not take out a loan on. Someone used her identity to secure a car loan in her name, and then actually made payments from their own checking account for months before falling in arrears. Crazy, right? Thankfully, the loan and theft resulted in the right people being held responsible, but she was very lucky.
She’s not alone. March is Fraud Prevention Month, and Capital One recently conducted a survey asking Canadians about their understanding of the impact of transaction fraud and identity theft as well as the precautions they take to protect themselves. The majority of Canadians are aware of the impact identity theft can have on their personal finances, including their credit score (71%). However, only half (53%) are taking some of the recommended steps to protect themselves against identity theft, including measures like managing their social media account settings, putting them at risk of fraud.
Millennials, like my family member, are hyper-aware of the impact of identity theft when compared to baby boomers, however, only a small number of Canadians have enabled transactional push notifications on their mobile device (20%) or regularly check their credit report (21%).
Capital One offers a few tips to help consumers protect against identity theft and transaction fraud:
For more information on fraud protection and what to do if you’ve been targeted for fraud, visit www.capitalone.ca/fraudprevention