We took one of our unused cars off the road in March after the pandemic hit and the extra vehicle was no longer needed while we were in lock down.  We cancelled insurance for several months on this vehicle in order to save money.  During this time the car battery died.  This led to the driver’s door being inadvertently left unlocked as the remote didn’t lock the door.  Fast forward several weeks and the car ended up being broken into one evening. I heard some noise out on our drive way and saw two people walking away from our house.  Of course I called the police but they came well after the two suspects had left the area.  In any event, after an initial inspection of the inside of my vehicle I believed that nothing was missing.

Now that summer was upon us and travel was limited we put the vehicle back on the road to take a family weekend getaway.  It was a larger vehicle and good for holding everything for a cottage weekend away.  I asked my wife where the ownership was and she said it’s in the glove box.  Upon opening the glove box we discovered the ownership and car insurance documents were missing.  Great I thought, now someone has my personal details.  We wondered what they could do with this information.

I quickly came up with the following questions:

  1. Could someone sell our vehicle because they had the ownership?
  2. Could they apply for loans or credit cards in my name?
  3. Would they be able to access other information?
  4. Should I be concerned?

On the following Monday a call to the police led me to take the following steps in order to protect ourselves from any subsequent fraud attempts:

  1. We filed a police report for the lost/stolen documents
  2. We signed up with Equifax to monitor our credit and to be notified if anyone attempts to take on credit using our names ($20/month)
  3. We let our insurance company know that our insurance documents had been stolen and that our vehicle had been broken into.

While nothing has happened so far, the anxiety caused by the missing documents is real.  A few years ago someone was using my social security number in the USA to work in the Midwest.  This caused a lot of difficulty trying to get this sorted out because it was in the USA.

Some recommendations people should take as a general rule:

  1. Always make sure your vehicles are locked
  2. Keep copies of ownership in your car.  If stopped by the police for any reason you will have to produce the original. The police will want to see that the sticker is on your ownership.
  3. Shred any mail with your name, address, account numbers and/or social insurance numbers on it.
  4. Monitor your credit from time to time.

Although we cannot guarantee that somebody will not steal our identity, we can take steps to be proactive in safeguarding our documents and our personal information.  Also using companies that provide proactive monitoring could help prevent the stress and anxiety caused by identity theft.

This information has been prepared by Linda J. Levesque & Daniel Fearon who are Investment Advisors for HollisWealth® and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of HollisWealth. The information contained in this newsletter comes from sources we believe reliable, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy or reliability. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned. The information contained herein may not apply to all types of investors. The Investment Advisors can open accounts only in the provinces in which they are registered. HollisWealth® is a division of Industrial Alliance Securities Inc., a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.
*Insurance products are provided through Hollis Insurance. Only services offered through HollisWealth®, a division of Industrial Alliance Securities Inc., are covered by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.