It is recommended that people avoid giving out personal information when it is not necessary to do so. Here are a few preventive tips and useful resources should you encounter any problems.

Have you been the victim of identity theft or stolen personal information? Did you unwittingly provide your personal or financial information?

To find out what to do in such situations, refer to the checklist titled Perte ou vol de son identité : Comment réagir? (available in French only) published by the Commission d'accès à l'information du Québec. This provincial body is in charge of ensuring compliance with and the promotion of access to documents and the protection of personal information. It is responsible for, among other things, applying the Act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector.

The website of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre also contains important tips on this subject, as does the Fraud prevention section of the Autorité des marchés financiers website.

Check your credit card and bank statements on a regular basis to make sure no unauthorized purchases have been made.

Has your credit card been lost, stolen or fraudulently used? Notify the card issuer without delay. As of moment the card issuer is notified, you cannot be held responsible for any new transactions made by another person with your card.

If you fail to notify the issuer that the card was used without your authorization, your liability is limited to the first $50 by law.

Protecting your personal identification number (PIN)

Despite this protection, be especially careful with your credit card's personal identification number (PIN). If the credit card issuer can prove that you were careless, reckless or grossly negligent in protecting your PIN number, you could be required to reimburse any losses the issuer may have sustained.

Beware of fraudsters

An individual pretending to be representing a merchant with whom you have already done business contacts you to update your file. This person asks you for your credit card number. Be careful if you did not request this call. This person could be a fraudster who is impersonating a merchant to obtain your personal information.

Also beware of any emails or text messages that ask you to provide personal information online, even if they supposedly come from your financial institution. These institutions should not be sending you a message in which they ask you for personal or banking information.

When making a purchase online, by phone or by mail, only provide information that is required for the transaction. If you have any doubts about a request for information, you can contact the merchant to ask them, among other things, how they plan to use this information.

If you are shopping online, read the privacy policy posted on the merchant’s website.

Secure websites

Make sure to do business on a secure website. A website is likely to be secure if:

  • the website address begins with "https://";
  • an icon, often a small locked padlock, appears beside the address bar or at the bottom of the page.

Check your credit file on a regular basis to see if it contains any errors. Make sure all of the information that appears in your file is accurate and up to date.

To check your credit file free of charge, go to the websites of the credit assessment agents Equifax or TransUnion and follow the procedure. If you wish to receive a transcription, reproduction or transmission of your credit report, you may be charged a fee.

If you have any problems, you can ask the credit assessment agent to put protective measures in place on your file, such as a security freeze, a security alert or an explanatory statement. To find out more about these protective measures, you can refer to the Autorité des marchés financiers website, in the “Viewing or making changes to your credit report” section, as well as the Commission d’accès à l’information website, in the “Dossier de credit” section (in French only). Keep in mind that you have recourse options with these 2 bodies if your request to have protection measures put in place is ignored or refused by the credit assessment agent.

Always use a unique password for each of your online accounts. Make sure they are complex, change them regularly and never share them. If you have to take note of your passwords, do so offline and be sure to keep them in a safe place.

Your Social Insurance Number could be used to obtain your personal information. It is therefore very important to be extremely cautious whenever you are asked to provide this number. Only provide it when it is absolutely necessary.

Who can ask for your SIN? In what circumstances are you not required to provide it? You can find the answers to all of these questions on the website of Service Canada, the federal body responsible for SINs.

Avoid leaving your SIN card in your wallet; store it in a safe place, along with any documents that contain your SIN.

Last update : June 10, 2024

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The information contained on this page is presented in simple terms to make it easier to understand. It does not replace the texts of the laws and regulations.