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The Man With 18 Identities

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There are no shortcuts to excellent credit and the access it provides to useful financial services. But that didn’t stop a Canadian man who allegedly used 17 fake or stolen identities to apply for loans and credit cards in Toronto.

Zeeshan Baz now faces charges of fraud, forgery and possession of property obtained by crime, according to a report from CTV News. The police have released the list of names he supposedly used during his fraud spree as a way to alert potential victims, though investigators think there may be additional identity theft victims, as well.

Baz’s alleged actions reinforce two crucial components of personal finance: account awareness and understanding credit basics.

Identity theft is incredibly common, and while there’s no foolproof way of avoiding it, there are dozens of ways to keep an incidence of fraud from destroying your finances. One of the most basic actions you can take is to regularly monitor bank statements. If any transaction looks out of place, investigate it immediately.

Monitoring your credit score can be key to helping you spot identity theft early. After all, an identity thief can open new accounts in your name that you may not even know exist. You can pay for a monitoring service, or use the Credit Report Card, a free tool that updates your credit scores monthly based on a soft pull of your credit. If you see a drop in your scores, it could be due to an identity thief and you should pull your full credit reports to see if you spot any new accounts that could be fraudulent.

Image: Photodisc

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