Canadian Identity Theft
IDENTITY THEFT IN CANADA: Fastest growing
business is Canadian identity theft protection
Saturday, February 01, 2003
Co-operators Life Insurance is standing up for 180,000
customers whose personal information was on a computer hard
drive that was recently stolen. Thieves may use the missing
information to steal the customers' identities.
It's a scary situation. Identity theft is the fastest growing fraud in North America. Last year, 800,000 Americans had their personal identity stolen. The RCMP fields up to 100 calls a day from Canadian victims. The scope of the problem is staggering. Thieves use stolen information to gain access to bank accounts and credit cards and to apply for loans. One hard drive stolen from a computer at a Regina data management company contained names, addresses, dates of birth, social insurance numbers and mother's maiden name for 180,000 Co-operators Life policy holders. The hard drive also had pension statements for 60,000 Saskatchewan provincial employees, 56,000 applications for Saskatchewan's bulk fuel rebate and 4,669 personal records for workers' compensation.
The theft of one hard drive has compromised the financial
security of 300,000 people, and there may be more. Apparently,
more companies had information on the hard drive. Unlike
Co-operators Life, they have not come forward publicly to warn
Everyone whose file was on the hard drive should be warned
to protect themselves. That means changing bank accounts,
cancelling credit cards and making frequent credit checks.
Co-operators will pay out-of-pocket expenses to customers who
take these precautions. But what a nuisance setting up new
accounts to deposit paycheques and pay bills by automatic
Although no victims have emerged so far, thieves have
waited up to a year to strike at victims' accounts.
Security must be a major concern anywhere personal files
are kept. Governments and financial institutions demand our
personal information. The least they can do is keep the
Police and the courts must take identity theft seriously.
One stolen hard drive has the potential to ruin the lives of
thousands of unsuspecting victims.
This is as bad as losing your wallet, maybe worse. When you
lose your wallet, you know it is gone and you will cancel
Identity theft is sneakier and more threatening because
victims may not know it has happened until it's too late.
© Copyright 2003 The Leader-Post (Regina)
Copyright © 2003 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest Global Communications Corp. All rights reserved.
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