Identity thieves cashing in on Canadians' info online, police warn
Having your identity stolen is no laughing matter, and sadly it is an ever-increasing crime, with high profits and a low chance of being caught.
Theft can range from simple abuse of your name and reputation (like being someone's fake reference), to outright theft of credit card and loan information.
The RCMP released a statement last Friday that detailed the extent of the damage in Canada.
"As we move more and more to the internet and technology being used, the risks are increasing, and I think that a lot of the public are not very careful about their identity," RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said.
The collection and trafficking of personal information brings in big profits for organized criminal groups, with little possibility of detection and prosecution, warns the 2008 annual report from Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, a network for exchanging information on organized crime that includes about 400 law enforcement agencies .
Lower-level criminal groups are typically involved in collection and trafficking of personal information while higher-level groups use the data to commit crimes, the report says.
Law professor Michael Geist breaks down the tougher identity theft bill that was enacted last year:
Here are some tips to keeping your information safe, and keeping track of your finances.
Under Canadian law, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the major reporting agencies every year, and every time you are denied credit. Take advantage of this law. When you get your credit report, you should examine it carefully for inquiries that you didn’t make, applications for service that you did not apply for, and address changes that you did not authorize. These could be simple mistakes (which you would want to correct, anyway), but they could be signs of an identity thief who is trying to co-opt your credit. If you do see any of these signs, contact you’re the credit company and your local police immediately.