Whether you’re moving for work, just for a change, or for any other reason, there are always a million things to do: hire movers, pack up your belongings, sublet your apartment or sell your house… But have you remembered to make sure your identity moves with you?

Stolen & Redirected Mail

Your mailbox is a goldmine of personal information. Just think about what can be found there: your credit card number, social insurance number, banking information, replacement driver’s licence, new credit cards… Fraudsters are counting on you to be away or distracted during your move so they can steal your mail or have it redirected to their address by Canada Post.

How to protect and minimize risks
  • Make a change-of-address request at the post office to make sure Canada Post forwards your mail directly to your new address for at least 12 months.
  • Make sure your mailbox has a lock to prevent theft.
  • Pay special attention to any mail that seems to have been tampered with.
  • Keep an eye out for your regular mail, such as monthly statements. If you notice anything is late, contact the company.
  • Keep the amount of mail you receive to a minimum by subscribing to online statements or signing up for ePost (service offered by Canada Post).
  • As soon as you know your new address, notify everyone who sends you mail: financial institutions, government departments and anyone else you do business with.
  • Open your mail in private, away from prying eyes.
  • Make sure you destroy any mail that contains personal information.
  • If you’re going to be away, have your mail delivery suspended or ask someone you trust to pick it up for you.
  • Make sure everyone else in your household takes the same steps.

Sifting Through Household Waste

Moving usually goes hand in hand with cleaning. Fraudsters might take this opportunity to sift through your garbage and recycling bins looking for documents containing your personal information.

How to protect and minimize risks
  • Make sure you shred all documents containing personal information.
  • If you’re getting rid of your old computer, delete everything from the hard drive.

Overpayment Scam

As part of your pre-move cleanup, you might decide to sell that exercise bike you kept meaning to use as something other than a clothes rack. Since you can’t really hold a yard sale, so you decide to sell your things online. But be careful: classified sites are popular with scammers on the hunt for new victims.

In this scam, the fraudster scans through the classifieds to find something to buy. Once the price has been negotiated, they send you a cheque that’s for more than the agreed-upon amount. With profuse apologies, they ask you to return the overpayment, which you do, only to realize, too late, that the cheque was NSF or counterfeit. Sure, you may have gotten rid of the bike, but at a high price!

How to protect and minimize risks
  • Ask for the buyer’s complete contact information (name, address, and telephone number) and check it against public listings such as Canada411.
  • If you get a cheque for the wrong amount, send it back.
  • If you’ve already deposited the cheque in your account, don’t send the reimbursement until it clears. This may take up to 90 days for payments from a foreign bank.
  • Treat money orders like cheques, not cash.
  • If the buyer lives outside the country, be extra careful: the chances are even higher it’s a scam. Ideally, find a buyer who lives in your area.
  • If you have any doubts or suspicions, don’t take any chances. Request electronic payment (a wire through your bank or an online payment service such as PayPal). These are direct payment methods and you won’t have to wait for a cheque to go through.
  • Don’t be afraid to cancel the transaction. Better to be stuck with that exercise bike than a hole in your bank account!