The OPP has been contacted by concerned residents after they received an email from Bell Canada advising that their payment was declined. The email goes on to state that this is the second notice and to ensure uninterrupted service, the home owner is requested to fill out a form containing detailed and personal information.

The OPP want to ensure that if anyone has received this type of email and provided any information to take proactive steps in order to prevent them from becoming targets of Identity Theft.

If you have provided your personal information and suspect that it has been used and misappropriated to commit fraud or theft, take action immediately and keep a record of your conversations and correspondence. The following basic actions are appropriate in almost every case.

Start a log of dates, person(s) that you spoke with and exactly what they said.

Contact the fraud departments of each of the two major credit bureaus. Equifax: (800) 465-7166 and Trans Union: (800) 663-998. Request that a “Fraud Alert” be placed in your files. At the same time order copies of your credit reports.

Contact the fraud department of creditors for any accounts that have been opened or tampered with fraudulently. This may include credit card companies, phone companies, banks and other lenders.

File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is currently central sourcing all pertinent information on Identity Theft to identity trends and patterns; information is also used to assist law enforcement agencies in possible investigations.

While you probably can’t prevent identity theft entirely, you can minimize your risk.

Identity theft is on the rise and it can happen to anyone. It can happen to you. By managing your personal information wisely, cautiously and with an awareness of the issue, you can help guard against identity theft.

Before you reveal any personally identifying information, find out how it will be used and if it will be shared.

Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time.

Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the internet unless you have initiated the contact or know whom you’re dealing with.

Keep items with personal information in a safe place. An identity thief will pick through your garbage or recycling bins. Be sure to tear or shred receipts,  copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements and credit offers you get in the mail.

Give your Social Insurance Number (SIN) only when absolutely necessary and ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.

Don’t carry your SIN card; leave it in a secure place.

If you have received an email message claiming to be from Bell Canada asking for personal information, please contact the Canadian Anti- Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501) to report it: http://www.antifraudcentre.ca .