Protect your identity while holiday shopping, Commissioner says

    Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart offers her Top 10 tips to avoid
    falling victim to identity theft during the holiday season

    OTTAWA, Dec. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Adopting a few simple precautions to
protect your personal information while holiday shopping will reduce the risk
you'll become an identity theft victim, says Privacy Commissioner Jennifer
    "This is the time of year when many of us are out shopping. We need to
think about safeguarding our personal information, including credit card
numbers, each time we take out our wallet," says Commissioner Stoddart.
    Defending against identity thieves can be as easy as ensuring you don't
keep unnecessary documents in your wallet or checking your receipt to ensure
your complete credit card number is not printed.
    "Identity theft is a crime which can inflict an enormous financial and
emotional cost. While it's impossible to entirely eliminate the risk you'll
become a victim, it is possible to substantially reduce the risk."

    Commissioner Stoddart today released her Top 10 tips for avoiding
identity theft during the holidays.

    1.  Remove any cards or documents not needed on a regular basis - a
        Social Insurance Number card or birth certificate, for example - from
        your wallet. If your wallet gets stolen, those sensitive numbers,
        which are extremely valuable to identity thieves, will remain safe.

    2.  Ensure the PIN for your bank card can't be easily guessed. Numbers
        based on your name, telephone number, date of birth, address or SIN
        should not be used. Never write down your PIN and leave it in your
        wallet or other obvious place.

    3.  When you enter your PIN either at an ATM machine or at the cash
        register, cover it with your hand.

    4.  If you have doubts about whether an automated teller machine is
        secure, don't use it. (There have been cases of criminals setting up
        ATMs in order to capture card and PIN information.)

    5.  Keep your eye on credit and debit cards at the checkout counter to
        ensure the cashier doesn't "double swipe" - run your card through the
        cash register and then an illegal card reader capable of capturing
        your personal information.

    6.  Check receipts to ensure your complete credit card number has not
        been printed. Retailers should have upgraded their processing
        equipment to automatically mask some of the numbers. Keep any
        receipts with complete credit card numbers in a safe place. When they
        are no longer needed, shred or burn these slips.

    7.  When shopping online, ensure your security software - firewall,
        anti-virus and anti-spy protections, for example - are up-to-date.
        Only send personal or financial information after ensuring there is a
        secure transaction system. Check for an icon of a lock or unbroken
        key at the bottom right corner of the screen or a web site address
        that begins with https://. Remember to use security controls when
        using a wireless network to shop.

    8.  Buy from reputable online firms. Check out a service you have not
        heard of by talking to friends, looking for comments about it online
        and calling its customer service line. If you do not feel comfortable
        with the service, don't use it.

    9.  Check credit card and bank statements as soon as they arrive so that
        any problems can be reported immediately. Take note of when your
        credit card bill is supposed to arrive in order to ensure an identity
        thief hasn't redirected your mail.

    10. Stores can ask for only the minimum information necessary to prevent
        fraud when handling returns. If you are buying a gift for a friend,
        colleague or relative, ask for a gift receipt. Retailers may ask for
        personal information such as name, address and telephone number.
        Sometimes a store will ask to view a piece of identification when a
        consumer returns a product. Information such as a driver's licence
        number should not be recorded.

    More detailed information about identity theft is available on the Office
of the Privacy Commissioner web site at

For further information:

For further information: Or interview requests, Colin McKay, Office of
the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, (613) 995-0103,

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