10,000 Reported Complaints and Rising - Online Identity Theft is a Growing Concern Among Canadians

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According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre (CAFCC), complaints of online identity theft totaled over $6 million in 2007 alone; unreported cases are estimated to be much higher. The Criminal Intelligence Services of Canada reports that global online identity theft trends have moved towards economic, environmental and financial crimes. No one is immune, the only way to refrain from becoming victim to identity theft, is to be cautious and aware. A non- profit credit counselling agency offers tips on maintaining online safety and security.

The information superhighway is granting potential thieves access to our personal information. Canadians need to beware and informed; rather than fall victim to online identity theft. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians engage in online transactions on a daily basis, unaware that identity theft can happen at several points of online contact.

"Without considering the potential long term implications of having their identity stolen, Canadians can jeopardize their financial wellbeing," according to Jeffrey Schwartz, Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Inc.; a non- profit credit counselling agency that has helped people recover from these very same issues.

To help, Consolidated Credit offers tips on maintaining personal identity and financial information safety:

Keep it to yourself
Keep detailed records of all online activity involving the use of your personal and credit card information.

Be Alert and aware
Investigate the website and its providers before leaving any personal or financial information; Look for security logos on the website (PayPal / Verisign). Be sure to monitor kids' activities online; children are often targets of online predators.

Use online security measures
Firewalls and Anti-Virus programs are a good investment; keeping information safe and secure.

Clear your computer before recycling
Clear files that contain any personal or financial data; thieves thrive on this information.

Seek help and report fraud to authorities
Stop all payments to websites that contain your information. Notify your banking institution immediately, change passwords right away and report the incident to the PhoneBusters National Call Centre.

Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Inc.'s mission is to help people end financial crisis and solve money problems through education and professional counseling. For more information and resources on identity theft and how to protect yourself, visit http://www.consolidatedcredit.ca

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