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When it comes to identity theft, one of the biggest misconceptions is that the perpetrator is the Big Bad Wolf – a creepy stranger who has been lurking around the outskirts of your daily life waiting for the right moment to strike.

Instead, many times, it’s a family member or friend.

Yeah, you read that right. In fact, 43 per cent of people know the thief personally.

Of course, being a victim of identity theft is never a pleasant experience, but having your sensitive information exploited by someone you trust is, as they say, rubbing salt in a wound.

So, what steps should you be taking to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft from all angles? The answer is simple: the same steps.

Just because someone is a family member or a dear friend doesn’t mean you should be sharing your sensitive information. All papers containing personal information like your birthdate, address, SIN number, and so on, should always be shredded and kept away from prying eyes – familial or stranger.

Well, you may argue that family members and friends tend to know your basic information like your birthday and address. You’re right, they do. However, they don’t need access to, for instance, your health card, license, or passport number.

Let’s delve deeper into the health card example. Someone close to you can use this information to obtain healthcare services, prescription drugs, or any other type of medical-related benefit. Often, medical identity theft is the most common with individuals who have family members with drug addictions or with little to no medical coverage.

Dealing with identity theft at the hands of a friend or relative is complicated. Those feelings of violation, betrayal, and mistrust are common when it’s a mystery person, but those feelings become more potent when it turns out to be a cousin, sibling, or spouse.

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If this is you, the steps you should take to protect yourself from further damage are the same:

  1. Make a list of all stolen identification
  2. Track all communication as you start contacting the appropriate law enforcement and financial institutions.
  3. Obtain a copy of your credit report from Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada
  4. Review Credit Reports
  5. Contact your local police
  6. Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC)
  7. Review all of your bank and credit card statements
  8. Notify Canada Post and utility service providers
  9. Notify federal identity document issuing agencies
    1. Immigration
    2. Passport
  10. Notify provincial/territorial identity document issuing agencies

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As for dealing with the friend or family member, that is up to you. Each scenario is unique, but what all these stories share is a lack of security and privacy when it comes to personal information. Going forward, always be cautious about how you share your information with those closest to you.

Keep your personal information private.

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