Canadians go about their daily routines without giving a second thought to many of their habitual activities. Most people fail to consider the risks associated with some regular tasks such as applying for a credit card, paying a bill online or purchasing hockey tickets. Yet, every year thousands of Canadians are victims of identity theft. According to The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (Phonebusters), a national anti-fraud call centre, there were 20,611 victims of identity fraud resulting in $10,484,493 in losses in 2014. See: Canadian Anti-fraud Centre “Mass Marketing Fraud and ID Theft Activities: Annual Statistical Report 2014”. Every month, approximately 1,400 to 1,800 people report instances of identity theft to Canada's major credit reporting agencies. See: The Globe and Mail News Article “Lost wallet can lead to fraud, so be prepared”. Mike Laanela of CBC News reported that the top ten scams earned offenders $1.2 billion in 2015. One such scam is the imposter scam email, asking for personal information about your account— this netted offenders $5.3 million. See: CBC News Article “Canada’s top 10 scams earned crooks $1.2B”. Identity theft is a considerable problem in Canada, one with severe consequences for those falling prey to it.
Ironically, even one of Canada’s credit reporting agencies, Equifax, was the victim of credit information theft; once when mailed out credit reports were fraudulently intercepted and once when criminals obtained credit reports by posing as legitimate credit grantors. See: The Globe and Mail news article “Identity theft cited as threat after Equifax security breach”. More recently, the same agency fell victim to the theft of credit information again through the activity of cyberhackers. See: The Star news article “Equifax says 100,000 Canadians may have been in data breach”.
The frequency of identity theft has become increasingly common with the advent of new technologies. More and more Canadians are faced with the daunting task of rebuilding their lives and repairing their financial reputation as a result of identity theft. Marie Dyck, a former senior fraud advisor for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, declared identity theft as the greatest challenge to preventing fraud.
Identity theft has been labelled as the fastest growing form of white-collar crime. See: Los Angeles Times “Theft of Identity called Fastest Growing White-Collar Crime”. This criminal activity is here to stay and consumers must be aware and take precautions to prevent themselves from becoming victims. The RCMP actually warns that the use of identity theft to facilitate organised crime and terrorist activities appears to be on the rise. See: Royal Canadian Mounted Police “Identity Theft and Identity Fraud”. [RCMP Identity Fraud].