In 2016, the total financial cost of cybercrime in Canada was estimated at $1.9 billion.
This includes 77,000 Canadians who lost $99 million in extortion, phishing and romance scams. Statistics from the RCMP indicate that 1 in 6 Canadians are victimized by identity theft, Canada’s fastest growing crime.
Identity theft: A federal crime for a person who “knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit any unlawful activity.”
Identity theft techniques can range from unsophisticated methods, such as dumpster diving and mail theft, to more elaborate schemes that mainly use the Internet for skimming, spyware, phishing, and hacking.
Using your stolen identity, identity thieves can:
• Access and spend money from your financial accounts
• Open new financial accounts
• Hack into your online accounts and change your passwords and contact information
• Apply for loans, credit cards and benefits in your name
• Buy or rent a home or car
• Set up businesses
• Acquire medical access
• Commit other crimes using your name
Here are a few ways to prevent this crime from happening to you:
• Be wary of unsolicited emails, telephone calls or mail attempting to extract personal or financial information from you.
• Carry only the most used and needed identity documents in your wallet or purse. Remove any you don’t need and keep them in a secure place instead.
• Periodically check your credit reports, bank and credit card statements and report any irregularities promptly to the relevant financial institution and to the credit bureaus.
• Always shield your personal identification number when using an ATM or a PIN pad.
• Memorize all personal identification numbers for payment cards and telephone calling cards. Never write them on the cards.
• Make sure you shred personal and financial documents before putting them in the garbage.
Skimming: Identity thieves use a skimmer that scans a credit card and stores the information contained in the magnetic strip. Skimming can take place during a legitimate transaction at a business.
If you suspect or know that you are a victim of identity theft or fraudiv, or if you unwittingly provided personal information or financial information:
1. Contact your local police force and file a report.
2. Contact your bank/financial institution and credit card company.
Credit bureau: Collects information relating to the credit ratings of individuals and makes it available to credit card companies, financial institutions, etc.
OTIP also offers an Identity Theft Expense Endorsement that provides:
• Coverage for costs related to identity theft such as legal fees, registered mail costs, long-distance telephone charges and lost wages
• Access to a credit card registry hotline to block card use
• Assistance from qualified professionals via a legal assistance helpline
Contact us at 1-866-944-2547 to find out more.