Providing the very basics of your personal information is a prerequisite for just about any service or sales transaction. Without a word, the swipe of a card exchanges enough details to move money, initiate marketing campaigns, track habits, spending and so much more. In the right hands these details are relationship builders – the mortar awaiting the next brick in the construction of a well-managed customer experience.
But what if it’s not in the right hands?
Facts and figures.
A 2013 survey of over 1,000 businesses commissioned by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada revealed…
- 97% of businesses collect contact information, such as names, phone numbers, and addresses
- 25% collect additional financial information, such as invoices credit cards, or banking records
- Even further data collection happens with 18% monitoring purchasing habits and 13% collecting medical information
Also, 65% of companies surveyed collect either two (39%) or three (26%) different categories of information mentioned above. 24% collect even more. Storage of this data ranged from on-site paper records to servers, portable devices and cloud computing.
That same year, over 19,000 Canadians reported over $11 million dollars in loss from identity fraud. Which is not to say that this figure is a result of businesses mishandling our information. On the contrary, the same report identified that the majority of businesses go to great lengths to protect our information and privacy and over 95% have never experienced a privacy breach of any kind.
Be data smart.
It’s easy to point the finger when a breach happens and even more gratifying to see the perpetrator and their accomplices strung up in a media hanging, but let’s keep the finger wagging to a minimum for just a moment and take a look at some of the other ways thieves are making off with our information and hard earned money. In some cases, we’re just handing it to them. A few simple changes to our everyday habits can go a long way in preventing identity theft.
- Know your social scene – Be mindful of the information you are posting to social networking sites and who you allow to view it. Give each post some thought before clicking ‘share’ and consider how much information is too much when it comes to securing your privacy.
And, don’t forget to make it a habit to regularly check privacy settings. Many social networks often updates their settings, terms and conditions without notification, it is up to the user to be diligent about protecting their information.
- Location, location, location – Photos or videos taken with cell phones or digital cameras could be geotagged if that device is equipped with GPS. Geotags provide details of exact locations where photos or videos were taken. When posting these online, the details of location are shared as well, leaving users vulnerable. Thieves can easily deduce if you are away from home or glean other details that might make you an easy target.
There’s a good chance you don’t even know your device is geotagging. Check with the manufacturer to get the details and learn how to turn this feature off if you choose.
- Take out the trash – If it has personal information on it, make sure it’s shredded or destroyed before it hits your garbage or recycling. It goes without saying that items like bank statements, utility bills and receipts should be properly disposed of, but even documents like notices or advertising that simply state your name could be the last piece of the puzzle a criminal needs to make a move.
Theft happens. Now what?
Even with our best efforts, identity theft happens and it can be a devastating loss. It’s not just the financial loss you’ll need to recoup, but your credit rating and legal standing could also be in need of serious repair.
This is where identity theft protection can really come in handy. Adding it to your home policy is inexpensive and covers you and others living in your household. Some policies even allow coverage for children who are temporarily away from home attending college or university. The expense reimbursement and assistance in recovery is invaluable.
If you’re already a victim of identity theft and need to get started on the reclamation process, the Consumer Measures Committee has developed this helpful resource to get you on your way, click here.
Sources and Resources – A Little Extra Info
- 2013 Canadian Businesses and Privacy-Related Issues Report – Prepared for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
- 2014 Canadian Anti‐Fraud Centre Annual Statistical Report
- Canadian Consumer Handbook – Identity Theft
Have More Questions?
Let me know and I’ll do my best to address it here for you and all of our readers. Better yet, contact an InsureMy advisor; these guys know their stuff. Email Info@InsureMy.ca or give them a call locally at (403) 410-1896 or toll free at 1-844-410-1896.
Everyday Insurance With Allie
Working mom, lover of the great outdoors and self-professed know-it-all. Our resident blogger, Allie isn’t the insurance guru she claims to be – but she’s learning and we are happy to help guide her. All the while keeping you in the loop on the “insurancey” stuff you need to know. #AskAllie