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Tips for avoiding identity theft after people affected all over Alberta

Monday, 16 July 2012. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Tips for avoiding identity theft after people affected all over Alberta
Two People Charged in Identity Theft/Forgery/Possession of Stolen Property
On June 25th, 2012, Two Hills RCMP executed a search warrant at the Junction Inn in Two Hills.  
As a result of this investigation by Two Hills RCMP, investigators discovered what is believed to be a sophisticated identity theft and credit card forgery operation.
While the investigation is still in the early stages, RCMP have uncovered up to 50 or more identities being developed with various levels of sophistication.
Investigators believe that this operation is far reaching and has affected people from all over Alberta.
With the assistance of RCMP General Investigation Section, RCMP Commercial Crime Section, North-West Region Passport and Immigration, Integrated National Security Enforcement Team and other RCMP Detachments in Alberta, the suspects stand charged with multiple counts of Identity Theft, Forgery and Possession of Stolen Property.
Jarrid SIEBENGA, 33 Years Old and Carmen SMITH, 30 Years Old from the Edmonton area have been remanded into custody until their court dates.  
Court dates have been set in Leduc, Sherwood Park, Vegreville and Edmonton on various dates up to July 9, 2012.
The investigation is on-going.
RCMP wish to remind the public to safeguard all personal information to help minimize the chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.  These measures include:
  • Be careful about sharing information or letting it circulate freely.
  • When you are asked to provide personal information, ask how it will be used, why it is needed, who will be sharing it and how it will be safeguarded.
  • Give out no more than the minimum, and carry the least possible with you.
  • Be particularly careful about your SIN; it is an important key to your identity, especially in credit reports and computer databases.
  • Don't give your credit card number on the telephone, by electronic mail, or to a voice mailbox, unless you know that the communication channel is secure.
  • Take advantage of technologies that enhance your security and privacy when you use the Internet, such as digital signatures, data encryption, and "anonymizing" services.
  • Pay attention to your billing cycle.  If credit card or utility bills fail to arrive, contact the companies to ensure that they have not been illicitly redirected.
  • Notify creditors immediately if your identification or credit cards are lost or stolen.
  • Access your credit report from a credit reporting agency once a year to ensure it's accurate an doesn't include debts or activities you haven't authorized or incurred.
  • Ask that your accounts require passwords before any inquiries or changes can be made, whenever possible.
  • Choose difficult passwords - not your mother's maiden name.  Memorize them, change them often.  Don't write them down and leave them in your wallet, or some equally obvious place.
  • Key in personal identification numbers privately when you use direct purchase terminals, bank machines, or telephones.
  • Find out if your cardholder agreement offers protection from credit card fraud; you may be able to avoid taking on the identity thief's debts.
  • Be careful what you throw out.  Burn or shred personal financial information such as statements, credit card offers, receipts, insurance forms, etc.  Insist that businesses you deal with do the same.
If you believe you have fallen victim to an identity theft same, follow these suggestions to help minimize the damage incurred:
  • Report the crime to the police immediately to obtain a police file number so that you can provide proof of the theft to the organizations that you will have to contact later.
  • Take steps to undo the damage.  Avoid "credit-repair" companies: there is usually nothing they can do, and some have been known to propose a solution - establishing credit under a new identity - that is itself fraudulent.
  • Document the steps you take and the expenses you incur to clear your name and re-establish your credit.
  • Cancel your credit cards and get new ones issued.  Ask the creditors about accounts tampered with or opened fraudulently in your name.
  • Have your credit report annotated to reflect the identity theft.  Do a follow-up check three months after to ensure that someone has not tried to use your identity again.
  • Close your bank accounts and open new ones.  Insist on password-only access to them.
  • Get new bank machine and telephone calling cards, with new passwords or personal identification numbers.
  • In the case of passport theft, advise the Passport Office.
  • Contact Canada Post if you suspect that someone is diverting your mail.
  • Advise your telephone, cable, and utilities that someone using your name could try to open new accounts fraudulently.
  • Get a new driver's licence.