We have discussed the issue of personal information in areas over which we have no control, however we will be coming back to it in future #IdentityTheft posts when discussing where criminals obtain that information.  This time, we’ll look at some areas where we do have control and some steps we can take to prevent the loss of that information.

Limiting the information we provide to legitimate businesses and organizations is the first step.  Next, is our outright refusal to provide personal information in other situations.  One of the most common methods used by criminal organizations is through fraudulent e-mails.  We have personally received several e-mails from “banks”, asking for us to update our Account Information.  These are banks where we have never had an account.  Even though the e-mail appears to be from a specific bank, when we call that bank to confirm the legitimacy of the request, we’re told that the e-mail address we have on our screen, is not an address used by that bank.  Assuming the criminals are sending that same e-mail to thousands of individuals, it’s logical to assume many customers of that bank may unwittingly provide the requested information – and it will be going directly to the criminals.  Never provide information when it is requested in an e-mail or phone call – provide it only when you contact the other party by phone or e-mail after verifying you’re using the correct address or phone number.  Banks don’t request information updates via e-mails, phone calls or pop-up windows.

We have had e-mails claiming to be from FedEx and from Canada Post, simply asking us to click on a tracking number to arrange for the pickup of a parcel.  When we call those couriers, they tell us those e-mail addresses and tracking numbers are not theirs.  Many people could be victims of that scam because  they may assume it’s a legitimate shipment that they are expecting from someone.  In fact, by clicking on the “tracking number’ you have just given the criminals access to your system.  Never click on attachments, pop-ups or links unless you verify the legitimacy first.  The same is true for telephone requests.

We do have control over information we provide as a result of a request – just don’t provide it unless the request is legal, necessary  and legitimate.  Don’t let criminals use e-mails, pop-up windows or links to make you a victim of #IdentityTheft.