ONTARIO – As part of Fraud Prevention Month, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) believes greater awareness can help prevent consumers from becoming victims of fraud through identity theft and payment cards.
Typical identity theft cases include situations where government documents — such as drivers’ licences, health cards, Social Insurance Number (S.I.N.) cards and birth certificates — have been unlawfully obtained or forged. Criminals can use your stolen identity documents to:
- access your computer and email accounts
- access your bank accounts, open new bank accounts or transfer bank balances
- apply for loans, credit cards and other goods and services
- make purchases
- hide their criminal activities
- obtain passports or receive government benefits.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), in 2013 there were 6,275 complaints of identity theft in Canada. Of those complaints, 4,898 victimswere identified and their combined financial losses exceeded $11-million.
The consequences of having your identity compromised can have lasting effects on your life including potential employers, individual finances and credit ratings, and your dealings with government and other agencies.
The OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau – Identity Crimes Unit also makes use of stronger legislative tools with which to charge criminals for possessing the personal information of others and prevent it from being used for fraud or theft.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of identity or payment card fraud, contact your local police service or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
“Criminals are able to convert your stolen personal information into documents and other tools to further support other crimes. Managing your personal information wisely and cautiously can help prevent identity theft.”
“Knowledge is power. Consumers can take some basic steps to better protect themselves from becoming a victim, such as never giving out personal information over the phone or over the internet if you are not sure with whom you are dealing, or by only carrying the identification documents that you need.”
– Detective Inspector Paul Beesley, OPP Anti-Rackets Branch
FAST FACTS ABOUT FRAUD
- Mass-marketing fraud (MMF) in Canada and particularly Ontario continues to grow at an alarming pace. A 2008 study by the Environics Research Group concluded that two-thirds of Canadians have been targeted by criminal mass marketers.
- The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) reports that, in 2013, more than 31,000 Canadians reported that they had fallen prey to organized criminal fraudsters for a total reported loss of over $63-million.
- Almost one-third of complaints to the CAFC come from Ontarians who suffered a reported loss of $31 million to criminal mass-marketers in 2013.
- The CAFC estimates that mass-marketing fraud reporting rates are less than 5% of actual victims. Losses to Ontarians from mass marketing fraud in 2013 are estimated to have exceeded $600-million — or close to $2-million per day. Many of these real dollar losses occurred to individual, ordinary Ontarians who may lose all or a significant portion of their life’s savings.
OPP Crime Prevention Section — Tip Sheet
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (formerly Phonebusters) – Identity Theft
For a Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Identity Theft Victims’ Guide, click here (PDF file)