e-Commerce has come a long way since the early 90s, when only a handful a people were aware of online shopping. Most of the Internet usage was for informational research and connecting with friends and family through online chatting. By 2001, According to Statistics Canada, there were 13.4 million online orders made by 2.2 million households. Fast-forward to today, close to 60% of online users in Canada are embracing the use of technology and making purchases online. Canadians do almost everything from doing price comparisons, booking hotels and trips to doing online banking transaction.
Unfortunately, with the increasing use of Internet for online shopping and electronic banking, there is a continued risk of identity theft and fraud. Fraudsters at the same time are embracing the online world and continually coming up with ways to acquire and collect personal information for criminal purposes. In 2009, Canadian victims have loss a total of 10 million dollars to fraud. Think about those online classified ads on Kijiji or Craigslist, popular items listed as “new unopened box” being sold for much less than retail prices. In most cases, the item was purchased with stolen credit card information.
What can your information be used for?
Fraudsters can use your stolen information to reproduce financial information to:
- Access or open new bank accounts
- Apply for credit cards, loans and mortgages
- Make online purchases
- Apply for government identification
- Assume your identity
How can you protect against identity fraud?
The best way, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is to monitor your online financial accounts. The RCMP encourages Canadians to be proactive in not only buying products from reputable sites, but to frequently check your credit report for unusual activities. What commonly happens to Canadians is that they are unaware that their account has been compromised until it is too late. Usually a call from a collection agency about unpaid debts from unfamiliar accounts will prompt people to check their reports.
Credit Monitoring Services
Fortunately, Canadians have a relatively inexpensive way to proactively take steps to prevent and monitor for fraudulent financial activities through credit monitoring services. Credit monitoring offers Canadians ongoing 24/7 support and alerts about changes to credit card and loan accounts. Also, anytime a new application for a credit card is submitted, you will be alerted. With the help of the credit bureau, credit-monitoring services help to prevent and stop the fraudster in his tracks. Canadians have many options when it comes to fraud protection. Prevention is the best way to deal with this crime and your first line of defense is frequently checking your credit report.