Theft of personal information

Somebody has managed to obtain an important piece of personal information such as a password, your date of birth, your credit card number, your phone number or your SIN? Here are a few tips to help you avoid problems.

Beware of anyone who tries to help you protect your personal information.

For example:

  • You receive an e-mail or text message asking you to validate your identity by providing personal information.

    Be very careful! Scammers send e-mails and text messages to get hold of your personal information. Don’t reply to an unsolicited e-mail without verifying its authenticity. If you feel you must reply to a message asking for personal information, use the contact information you have in your records. Most importantly, don’t use the contact information or click on any hyperlinks appearing in the e-mail or text message.

  • You receive an e-mail, text message or phone call from someone claiming to work for the AMF, a financial institution, Revenu Québec or another organization who offers to help you with an alleged case of fraud detected in your file.

    Don’t give the person any personal information. Instead, call the institution or organization at an official phone number (not the one provided by the unknown individual). You’re asked to act fast to protect yourself from fraud? Before doing anything, think it over and do the necessary checks. Make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate institution.

  • Someone offers to protect your computer by accessing it remotely in order to install the updates, antivirus software and other systems required.

    Never give a stranger remote access to your computer.

  • Someone offers to provide you with a new social insurance number (SIN) for a fee.

    Say no! Service Canada This link will open in a new window does not issue new SINs when personal data is leaked or stolen.

Sound advice

Here are a few advices to reduce the risk of fraud and the theft of personal information.

Beware of “credential stuffing”

Credential stuffing is when fraudsters get hold of your credentials for an on-line account (user name and password) by either breaching a website and stealing them along with thousands of other user name and password pairs or by buying them from other scammers. They then use bots to automatically “stuff” millions of stolen credentials into the login pages of various on-line accounts. If you have used the same credentials for other on-line accounts, such as an account with a financial institution, the fraudsters may gain access to it, change your password and carry out transactions for their personal gain.

How to prevent fraud

  1. Use a different password for each on-line account;
  2. If you need to, use a password manager;
  3. Enable multi-factor authentication, if possible (e.g., where you receive a code via text message that you have to enter before you can access your on-line account).

Personal information has been stolen from your bank, caisse or insurer and it’s causing you concern? Here are some answers to your questions.

How can I find out if my personal information has been stolen?

Your bank, caisse or insurer should notify you if this happens. In recent cases across the country affecting Québec consumers, the means of communication used included mail. Be careful if you’re notified solely by another means. Call the institution or firm involved at the number in your records for peace of mind.

Should I be worried about the theft of my personal information?

Ill-intentioned people could use your personal information to commit fraud. While that’s not very reassuring, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of fraud. See below.

How can I reduce the risk of fraud?

Check if your bank, credit union (caisse) or insurer offers a free credit monitoring plan from Equifax or TransUnion, the two main credit agencies in Canada. If so, follow the instructions to sign up for the plan. Once you’re signed up, you’ll get alerts when unusual changes occur in your credit file. However, such a service doesn’t guarantee that your personal information will be protected. Exercise caution, including by regularly checking your credit report with these agencies.

Need assistance or don’t have easy access to the Internet? Contact your bank, credit union (caisse) or insurer by phone.

What should I do if I get an unsolicited e-mail, text message or phone call regarding my personal information?

Be very careful with this type of unsolicited message or call. Scammers will use every trick in the book to gain access to your accounts and get hold of additional personal information. If it’s a phone call, promptly end it.

If you feel you must reply to a message asking for personal information, use the contact information you have in your records. Most importantly, don’t use the contact information or click on any hyperlinks appearing in the e-mail or text message and don’t open any attached files.

Be vigilant!

Sign up for credit monitorin

When you sign up for a credit monitoring service, you will be alerted by e-mail when there has been a change affecting your credit file. It is not an absolute guarantee against fraud.

  • Keep an eye on your bank statements and any new invoices you receive in the mail. Immediately report any suspicious activity to your financial institution.
  • Strengthen your passwords.
  • Regularly check your credit reports from the main credit agenciesThe term “credit agencies” used on this page refers to the credit assessment agents governed by this Act. Equifax and Trans Union for errors.
  • You could also activate a security alert.This alert lets lenders know that they should pay special attention to credit applications involving you and that they must confirm your identity before approving any applications. To activate an alert, contact Equifax and Trans Union.

Fraudsters never rest!

Always be careful. Subscribe to receive AMF investor warnings by e-mail or text message.

End of the insight

Questions or concerns?

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Internet fraud: 7 tips to help you avoid Internet and social media fraud

Potential scam: 5 Steps to Avoid Fraud

Be aware of the risks of fraud: consult AMF investor warnings

Credit report

Equifax website This link will open in a new window

TransUnion website This link will open in a new window