There is a lot of information available about protecting yourself from identity theft. However, if you ever have had your identity stolen, there is unfortunately not enough support and resources available. With technology and artificial intelligence growing leaps and bounds, that also means more sophisticated hackers and scams are out there as well.
Recently my daughter lost her driver’s license. She was out with a group of friends and she took it out to show proof of age and that was the last time she recalled seeing it. A driver’s licence contains just about all of your personal information and it was disheartening to hear it was stolen. We immediately set a plan in place to notify relevant parties as soon as possible. What became evidently clear in the days following is that there is really very little you can do to protect yourself when your ID is stolen or lost.
Here’s where we reported the lost card.
The first stop was to Service Ontario to report the license as lost/stolen and get a replacement. A replacement fee of $35.75 was charged. Meanwhile, she received a temporary paper licence. An interesting note is that your date of birth is actually incorporated into your driver’s licence number, rendering it unique to the driver. This is the reason why it stays with you for your lifetime and even if reported stolen, it does not change. There is a machine-readable barcode on the back of the licence that contains your personal information, which when swiped will indicate that the card was lost or stolen. Not sure how this really helps protect the owner, as I can’t ever recall who actually uses a card reader on driver’s licences.
She filed a police report online for theft under $5,000. Nothing ever came of it. She never received any other notification other than an automated email with a case number. However, TransUnion did ask whether a police report was filed and if so, requested the case number. The TransUnion staff said that there is a different process in place if you have a case number vs not having reported it to the police.
In Canada, there are 2 credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion that should be notified immediately. Both placed an identity/fraud alert on her account. In Ontario, an identity alert requires lenders to call you before extending credit. It was impressive that both call centres picked up the call immediately. Both companies offer additional identity theft products for a monthly fee. The cost for these products can add up, but if your identity has been compromised, this may be something to consider. I had also wanted to put a freeze on her accounts as this would prevent anyone from accessing her account for the purpose of opening credit in her name. However, this option is only available in Quebec.
An alert was also placed at her bank. Her financial advisor suggested that she provide the new expiry date on her driver’s licence so that it would stand out should someone try to use her licence at the branch as a form of identification.
Her credit card company failed to see how losing her licence links to her credit card, but at her request, a flag was placed on her account. Interestingly enough, a few weeks later, her credit card was compromised. She has no idea from where, but luckily because of the flag, she was alerted.
Needless to say It was all a bit stressful but overall a valuable learning opportunity for my daughter.