Identity Theft Scams Crop Up in Ontario

19 June 2015

Ontario residents should be on the lookout for identity fraud, as two major news stories have come up recently involving identity theft scams throughout the province.

In one of these cases, the Ottawa Police are sending out an alert about an identity fraud scam in which victims are convinced that they have already been the victim of identity theft. Several victims have received a letter at their home addresses demanding late bill payments from a company that has supposedly been registered to that address. This is meant to lead them to believe that their identity has been stolen and used to register the company, which in reality doesn’t exist at all.

The letter includes a contact number that victims can call, and when they call to explain that they are not the owners of the company, the scammers ask them to provide an email address in order to send a form that will supposedly release them from responsibility for the payments. The form, in turn, asks for all the personal information necessary to actually commit identity theft, including social insurance numbers, drivers licence numbers and even photocopies of the victims’ ID cards.

Ottawa fraud unit staff sergeant Stephanie Burns said in a press release, “The Ottawa Police want to warn the public about providing personal information to ‘ghost’ companies. When in doubt, contact a credit company to determine if there are any discrepancies in your credit history.”

Meanwhile, in Cornwall, a longtime Royal Bank customer was “shocked” to find out that someone was able to access his account over the phone even after giving wrong answers to his security questions. Glen Langburt, who lives in Montreal, found out that a stranger had gained access to his accounts through a Cornwall branch office when his wife tried to use her debit and credit cards at a gas station and found that they had been frozen.

When Langburt was able to get his hands on a transcript of the call to the Cornwall branch, he found that the mysterious caller gave the wrong answers to several security questions that should have kept him from being able to access the accounts. He gave the wrong birth year and couldn’t answer questions about his banking products and regular deposits. Moreover, Langburt says, the customer service representative didn’t even ask his personal security questions, like the name of his first pet. The fraudster was able to change the address on file and order new cheques to the address.

Fortunately, the fraud was detected before any financial damage was incurred, but Langburt is still shaken by the incident.

“I’m shocked. I’ve been a Royal Bank customer for 45 years now,” Langburt told the CBC.

A Royal Bank representative apologized for the incident, calling it “a rare and unique occurrence.”

“We apologize to the clients for this incident, and we are committed to taking steps to resolve the matter and to help protect them,” the representative said.

To keep track of certain types of activity on your credit file in case of identity theft or fraud, consider signing up for a credit monitoring service.