THE TORONTO STAR - The best protection against identity theft is you

Scott received a suspicious-looking credit card statement in the mail from Canadian Tire a few weeks after the incident. Then, days later, he received another suspicious-looking Hudson's Bay Mastercard statement. That's when he realized the thieves were using his personal information to apply for credit and to open up banking accounts.

"Knowing these people were applying for credit under my name was disturbing and annoying," Scott said in recounting the story. "But, what upset my wife and I more was how they also knew our home address."

Sadly, when a fraudster gets ahold of your private information such as your address, a credit card number or social insurance number, they can create fraudulent requests for credit, or in the absolute worst cases, create a fake identity of you that can be used to get a driver's licence, forge a passport, apply for a mortgage, and potentially leave you with a pile of debt that you had no part in accruing.

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2: Cancel accounts and create new passwords

The next step is to cancel your existing bank accounts and credit cards, and open up new ones. You'll then set up new PINs and passwords for these accounts.

According to Daniel Tobok of Cytelligence, the single best way to prevent a cyber criminal from doing more damage than they already have is to create rock-solid passwords and change them monthly.

Specifically, mix in a combination of numbers, letters and symbols. Avoid saving your passwords anywhere unless it's with a secure encryption program and avoid using common phrases or words closely associated to you. Last, use a two-factor identification process such as a password plus a security question or a password plus a secure code texted to your mobile device.

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Any solution starts with a conversation. Our team is ready to discuss your projects, immediate security concerns and confidential actions. We are looking forward to hearing from you.