Identity theft

The scam

Scammers collect or reproduce your personal information to commit fraud.


Martin is a real estate pro, a kids' soccer coach, and most important, father of three active teens.

It's been a busy Saturday.

New bike for his daughter…

… arranging passports for the family…

… online banking, paying bills, cleaning up files and old tax forms!

Martin finishes up by taking out the trash…

… only to find someone or something with its head in Martin's paper recycling bin.

Knowing that his identity could be stolen

through his phone,

through his computer,

or even through material in his trash can.

He knows that scammers can:

Make purchases using his accounts

Obtain a passport using Martin's personal info

Apply for loans or even government benefits illegally!

Martin makes a solemn vow to protect his identity on line…

… by password-protecting all of his family's devices…

… never giving out any info on the phone…

… and be much more careful when he buys on line.

And Martin knows that if he suspects identity theft, he'll call the police right away.

Martin looks in the recycle bin… and smiles.

Paper shredders… 50% off. Awesome!

Video length: 1 minute, 29 seconds

How it works

Using your personal information, thieves can make purchases, obtain passports, receive government benefits, apply for loans, and more.

Fraudsters use techniques that range from unsophisticated to elaborate. Offline, they can go through trash bins or steal mail. Online, they can use spyware, viruses, and other techniques.

They look for credit card information, bank account details, full name and signature, date of birth, social insurance number, full address, mother’s maiden name, online usernames and passwords, driver’s licence number, and passport number.

How to spot it

Monitor your financial accounts frequently and check your credit report regularly for any unusual activities. If you receive calls from collection agencies about unfamiliar accounts, or if you applied for credit and were unexpectedly turned down, you should investigate further.

Protect yourself

  • Shred and destroy documents with personal information.
  • Unless it’s from a trusted source like your bank, never provide your personal information over the phone or via text message, email, or the Internet.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots like coffee shops to access or provide personal information.
  • Create strong and unique passwords for each of your online accounts. Password-protect your devices and home Wi-Fi network.
  • Use a secure and reputable payment service when buying online; look for a URL starting with “https” and a closed padlock symbol.
  • Avoid giving out personal information online; it can be used along with your pictures to commit fraud.
  • Always shield your PIN when using a debit or credit card. If you hand it over to a cashier, never lose sight of it.

Further reading