Wednesday, September 14, 2016 9:30 am, Posted by Absolute Destruction
A week rarely goes by without some news agency reporting the discovery of an identity theft ring. Usually, these articles hail from somewhere in the United States — a country with a population roughly 9 times that of Canada and a rate of identity theft that’s suitably much larger than our own. But every so often, we’ll read up on a local story, reminding us that identity theft is still very much an issue that knows no boundaries. Toronto and the GTA are no less immune to fraud as anywhere else in the world if people fail to undertake preventative measures to protect their personal information.
Case in point: the CBC reported on a large fraud and identity theft ring based out of Toronto. Back in June, the main suspect was a 44-year-old man who was wanted for 181 charges, including counts of impersonation, forgery, counterfeit, and selling identities in addition to fraud and identity theft. The June bust uncovered multiple birth certificates, driver’s licences, credit cards, and other I.D. using genuine personal information partnered with the accused’s picture. Detectives of the Toronto Police Service’s Fraud Division say these identification cards were then used to open accounts at banks, payday loan lenders, and other financials organizations under other people’s names.
How was he able to pull off such a successful incidence of fraud? For one thing, the police say he wasn’t working alone. For another, he stole mail in order to find the personal information from those robbed of their identities. He then redirected any notices from these false accounts to a new address, so his victims were blissfully unaware of any suspicious activity.
While under the constant threat of Canada Post’s strike, you may have given up physical mail for good, yet even those who have embraced e-mail and e-bills with equal aplomb will receive various pieces of mail that contain private information. These letters, bills, and other documents are exactly the kind of material that the accused fraudster used to open his many false accounts.
Your mailbox doesn’t have to be an easy target. Some tips to keep your mail private include:
- Checking for mail regularly and keeping your mailbox clear;
- Making sure your mailbox is locked, if possible;
- Knowing when you’re expecting government issued documents, including licence renewals, tax information, and cheques; and
- Keeping track of physical communications from financial institutions, knowing when new credit and debit cards are to arrive.
When you know the approximate arrival time of important documents and identification, you’ll realize these items are late or missing entirely faster than if you didn’t. As soon as something like a credit card or licence fails to reach your home within the specified time, it’s important to notify these financial organizations or government departments of your issue. Alternatively, should you receive any notification welcoming you as a new customer to an account or organization you have had no contact with previously, this may be a red flag of fraud.
As for the physical evidence left behind by these delivered documents, our regular readers will know our policy. Any piece of mail that contains contact information, account numbers, tax information, or your Social Insurance Number must never find its way into your garbage or recycling bin. Just like your mailbox, these containers are prime targets for those fraudsters searching for easy information to steal, defraud, and sell. The only way to guarantee your personal information is protected — even when you have no need of it — is through our secure shredding services. With mobile shredders that have the National Association for Information Destruction’s seal of approval, we can incinerate all of your paper and digital documents for good.
With a keen eye towards your mailbox, an understanding of your finances, and a regular appointment with our mobile shredders, you don’t have to worry about mail fraud or identity theft. Let’s keep Toronto and the GTA out of the news. Call us so we can work together to keep your personal information protected.