Canadian Identity Theft

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IDENTITY THEFT IN CANADA: Fastest growing business is Canadian identity theft protection

Expositor Staff 
Brantford, Ontario

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 about risks.

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 deduction.

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 information secure.

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 credit cards.

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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Canadian Identity Theft & Thief
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© Copyright 2003 
The Leader-Post (Regina)
Copyright © 2003 
CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest Global Communications Corp. 
All rights reserved.