A secure identity is just like the funds you have put aside for your future.
Seniors represent one of Canadas most vulnerable groups of society, says Jack Smith, President of the Canada Safety Council.
Unfortunately, this makes you a frequent target for fraud, theft and malicious activity. This reality makes it all the more crucial for you to take steps to safeguard your information and keep a close eye on what you are sharing.
Just as youve researched your savings and investment options, you need to take stock of your privacy vulnerabilities.
Start with your pocketbook. Take an inventory of the personal information and cards that you carry. Leave items you dont need somewhere secure, such as in a safety deposit box. This includes your birth certificate and Social Insurance Number, the latter of which is only needed for income reporting and should only be shared when absolutely necessary.
If asked for personal details to participate in a promotion, to return an item to a store or by a charity youve made a donation to, be sure to ask questions about the organization's privacy policies and how your information will be protected. Dont let businesses make a copy of your ID unless its for a legitimate reason.
Here are a few other tips and tricks to keep your information safe from prying eyes:
Get acquainted with the devices you use, including smart phones, tablets and laptop computers. Find out how to use the safety features and how to disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when theyre not in use. Enable the password protection and lock features for an extra layer of safety.
Ensure that your mailbox has either a lock of a drop slot on it. Mail theft can lead to identity theft if theres sensitive personal information in the stolen correspondence. Keep track of bills youre expecting in the mail and dont be afraid to call the companies issuing them if they dont arrive on time.
Burn or destroy documents that contain personal information when theyre no longer needed.
Never give personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call and you trust the person on the other end.
Change your passwords regularly, avoiding easy-to-guess passwords like 12345 and password.
Use caution and judgement when opening emails. Malicious messages may contain viruses, financial scams or requests for personal information from people or institutions you dont know. If something looks odd, dont hesitate to ignore it.
Avoid transmitting any personal information when using public Wi-Fi (for example, at a coffee shop or an airport.)
It's also a good idea to educate yourself about Canada's privacy laws. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has numerous online resources that can help, or you can call the Information Centre toll-free at 1-800-282-1376.
Older Canadians are often admired for the good examples they set and they can be role models to their children and grandchildrenanybody, actuallyby passing on what they learn about protecting personal data and following good habits.
You can access the non-condensed version of this news release on the Canada Safety Councils