The Internet has become an undeniably invaluable tool that many Canadians use on a daily basis. However, with more and more people logging on to the World Wide Web, the risk of identity theft has increased. Characterized as when someone knowingly gains access to and uses personal information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, or your name for their own use, it's estimated that identity theft costs the likes of consumers, banks, and credit card firms some $2.5 billion per year1.
It’s easy to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft once you’ve become aware of the risks. Below are some tips to help you keep your information safe when you're surfing the web:
1. Practice caution when on public WiFi networks
These days, you can access the Internet just about anywhere. It's common for people to access the Internet from restaurants, coffee shops, the airport, etc. But if you're not using a secure, trusted connection - such as the one that should be in your home – it’s important to be careful of your online behavior. In many cases, public WiFi networks are not secure, thereby allowing hackers the opportunity to gain access to your personal information if you make an online order, log into your bank account, or even just log into your email.
2. Use double verification
While not always convenient, using double verification to access your online accounts can enhance your security. Double verification will permit you to log in from the computer and also submit a code that's sent to your phone. It can help guard against phishing.
3. Switch up your passwords
For convenience, you may have used the same password to log into your bank account, for your email, for social media, for your credit card, etc. Make sure that these passwords are all different and not easy to guess (i.e. "1234"). If a hacker were to crack your password to one account, they'd then have access to all your accounts if the passwords are consistent across the board. When choosing a password, make sure it's a combination of numerals, characters, and special characters.
4. Be on the lookout for spam emails
Phishing campaigns are attempts to steal your personal information. They are usually sent via email, asking the user to click on an attachment or input their social security number by clicking on a link. Many will disguise themselves as your bank to get this information. While most email platforms are good at weeding out spam, the bottom line is that if an email looks fishy, it probably is. Just delete these emails and never give your personal information out to a suspicious source.
5. Only shop on secure websites
When shopping online, always look for the little padlock at the top left of your screen, next to the URL. If it's there, that's the sign of a secure website. If it's not, proceed with caution. Any website that's not reputable could put you at risk.
6. Do not share personal info on social networks
You don’t want to give potential thieves any help when it comes to your identity. You should refrain from posting personal information on your social networks. Also turn off GPS tracking technology on these networks, set your profiles to private, and only accept friends and followers that you know and trust.
Identity theft may be on the rise, but by taking the proper precautions, you can enjoy the World Wide Web worry free. Talk to your insurance provider to see if you are covered from identity theft. If you’re a Servus Insurance Services | Home and Auto homeowner policyholder and you find your identity has been stolen, you may be insured for up to $30,000 so you can concentrate on getting back on track.2 Contact a Servus Insurance Services | Home and Auto representative today to learn more.
2 Described coverage and benefits applicable only to home policies underwritten by Unifund Assurance Company in Alberta. Johnson and Unifund share common ownership. Eligibility requirements, limitations, exclusions or additional costs may apply, and/or may vary by province or territory. Servus Insurance Services | Home and Auto (“SISHA”) is a division of Johnson Inc. (“Johnson”), a licensed insurance intermediary, and is a tradename operated under license in Alberta. SISHA is not a subsidiary or affiliate of Servus Credit Union. This is not a solicitation by Servus Credit Union.
This article is provided for your general information only. Nothing on this site alters the terms or conditions of any insurance policy. Read your policy for a complete description of coverage and contact your insurance provider for coverage and policy details. Policy wording prevails.
Home and auto policies sold through Johnson Inc. are underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada (“RSA”) in Quebec and underwritten by Unifund Assurance Company (“Unifund”) in the rest of Canada. Auto insurance not available in BC, SK or MB. Home and auto insurance not available in NU. Johnson, Unifund, and RSA share common ownership. Eligibility requirements, limitations, exclusions or additional costs may apply, and/or may vary by province or territory.