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Protecting a most valuable asset: your identity.

We live in amazing times with so many things easily accessible and available almost instantaneously. Don’t feel like cooking? Dinner can be delivered to your doorstep within minutes using one of the many food delivery apps. Have a cheque to cash? Snap a picture and consider it done. While there are so many benefits to living in this age of technology, we are also at greater risk of becoming a victim of fraud. Unfortunately, a recent personal experience brought this fact home.

At some point, shortly before the holiday season, someone gained access to my credit card information and used it to go on a shopping spree in Vancouver. Not with the card itself, that was still in my wallet. For many of you reading this, it is likely to be a familiar story. Perhaps you have shared a similar experience or it has happened to someone you know. Identity theft can happen to anyone, at anytime, but there are measures that you can easily implement that may help to minimize the risk or damage that is done:

  1. Regularly review your bank and credit card statements for abnormal activity. This is easily done online and can even be done daily or a few times each week. Report any unusual or unauthorized activity to your provider immediately.
  2. If your credit card has a high limit, consider keeping a second card with a minimal allowable amount which can be used for online purchases or reservations. Cancel any cards you don’t use, particularly those that are subject to very high interest rate charges, like department store cards.
  3. Check to see if your home insurance provider offers Identity Theft protection as an additional rider to your policy. It can often be added at minimal cost depending on your policy.
  4. Monitor your credit report by obtaining a free report annually and consider purchasing additional reports throughout the year for ongoing monitoring. Additional information regarding how to obtain your credit report can be found here.
  5. Keep photocopies of personal documents, such as your driver’s licence, credit cards, birth certificate, passport and social insurance number, locked in a personal safe or safety deposit box. The original versions should also be kept in the safe when not in use. Be sure to shred all documents with personal information prior to throwing them in the garbage.
  6. Ensure that your computer is protected with reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware software programs. Never reveal personal information to unverified sources, either over the internet or on the phone. Do not feel pressured to answer personal questions if you do not trust the source or understand why the information needs to be provided.

As a team, we at Newport Private Wealth are focused on protecting our clients’ investment capital as our first priority in managing wealth. We also spend a great deal of time and attention on continually enhancing our systems, training and awareness to further protect our clients against the ongoing threat of cyber security. This checklist is offered as another way for you to protect your wealth by reviewing the security measures you have in place at home to detect and prevent the occurrence of financial harm or identity theft.