Every year countless Canadians fall victim to identity theft crimes, the number of victims may be somewhat small but the impact that it has on the individuals can be staggering. Not just the financial impact but the emotional impact it has as well.

The question that maybe on most of our minds is , what is identity theft? According to the RCMP, “Identity theft involves stealing, misrepresenting or hijacking the identity of another person or business and provides an effective means to commit other crimes.” The recent statistics from Phonebusters for 2006 are very disturbing.

2006

PROVINCES

VICTIMS

$ LOSS

ON

3353

$7,584,188.86

PQ

2040

$4,674,504.44

BC

1190

$2,035,365.27

AB

612

$1,439,474.29

MB

249

$151,860.16

SK

94

$61,192.28

NS

106

$155,039.49

NB

67

$92,396.07

NF

29

$30,107.04

UNKNOWN

12

$3,102.62

PE

11

$17,059.00

NT

7

$3,102.62

YK

7

$2,379.23

NU

1

$0

TOTALS

7778

$16,283,776.91

Identity theft is the crime of choice in today’s age or more importantly the information age. What are they stealing?

Identity thieves commit fraud and other crimes by assuming someone else’s identity. Personal information such as your name, date of birth, address, credit card, social insurance number and other identification can be used to steal money from your existing accounts, open other financial accounts, make purchases, or even obtain employment.

Here’s a very interesting video from CBC’S, The National.

http://www.cbc.ca/mrl3/23745/thenational/archive/identitytheft-011508.wmv</

But how do they get this private information? Here are some of the ways they obtain your personal information;
1. Dumpster Diving
2. Shoulder Surfing
3. Skimming
4. Phishing

In today’s society where information is giving very freely  to someone who asks you via phone, internet or whenever you purchase something in a store, they ask for some sort of personal information, regarding address, phone number, etc.

Here are some things that can be done to help revent identity theft;

  • Guard Your Personal Information
  • Don’t Leave Personal Information
  • Shred Personal Information
  • Keep Your Sin to Yourself
  • Protect Your Credit Card
  • Take All Receipts
  • Be Aware of Billing Cycles or Missing Mail
  • Cover Keypad Entry When Entering Pin Numbers
  • Use Difficult Passwords
  • Avoid Writing Down Passwords and PINS
  • Hang up and Telephone Solicitors
  • Check Your Credit Report

 Taking these precautions  will make it harder for criminals to steal your identity and prevent you from being a statistic.

Tony

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I’ve been thinking about the video we watched last Monday about identity and realized how scary something like identity theft can be. Not only that, it’s scary having someone know your identity who you don’t know knowing your middle name, last name, date of birth, where you live and so on. You never know whose on the other end.

As I sat down to think, I remembered when the MSN craze began during my time in Junior High. My parents were always worried about us (the kids) using it because they didn’t know who we were talking to. They didn’t realize that it wasn’t your ordinary chat room. You’re able to decide who you talk to, who would see you online, who you could block, and so on. I couldn’t understand why they were so worried until I grew up a little bit. So now I’m wondering what people can do with your identity besides stalk you and whatnot. Not that that’s not scary enough…

I guess the first thing that comes to mind is the antiphising toolbar which you can use in your Hotmail account (I use this as an example as it’s the only one I use). I have received numerous emails about not paying for an item on Ebay. First of all, I don’t have an Ebay account. But, if I did and thought that it was a real email from Ebay and decided to log in, then my password and user name has automatically been “stollen”. I can only imagine having a Credit Card number stollen..

A good example is as follows: “Research by Harris Interactive and Gartner in the summer of 2003 found that approximately 7 million people were victims of identity theft in the previous year” The sad thing is, is that this has probably increased dramatically since 2002. With that said, according to Identity Theft Resource Centre, victims end up spending 600 hours recovering from the crime as they have to contact people and work with credit cards, banks, credit bureaus, and law enforcement. This can add up to $16,000 in lost wages an income!!! That’s basically a new Toyota Corolla!!

After reading this, I now understand why my parents were so cautious about us  using programs such as MSN. Forget about stalking, you never know what can happen to you if “unknown” people know too much..

Raelyn Campbell, a customer of Best Buy had her $1,100 laptop lost by the business, after she had brought it in to be serviced. They only told her it was lost after giving her the run-a-round for 3 months, after she initially brought it in. She then filed a lawsuit against Best Buy, for potential exposure of identity theft, and wants to be compensated with $54 million! Wow!  Best Buy thinks her demands are unreasonable, and offered her to settle for $900, which Campbell was outraged with, considering she paid well over $1,100 for the laptop and warranty plans, along with all her information, documents, music and photos stored on the laptop. I thought I’d bring up this post from the Scripting News just because I know I’d be super mad if a store lost my laptop. Does everyone else feel the same? Or would you have just backed up your information and not minded so much that Best Buy *lost* your laptop?

Tasia