Passport Disappears from Canada Post

11 January 2016

When most Canadians send something in the post, they take for granted that their parcel will arrive at its destination without a hitch. For a North Vancouver woman, however, that was not the case, and the mistake proved costly.

When Larissa Zalesnykh’s father died suddenly in Kazakhstan, she knew right away that she would need to travel to the country to attend his memorial and help her mother. To get there, Zalesnykh first needed to obtain a visa from the Kazakh Embassy in Ottawa, which required she send her passport. The embassy issued the visa and sent Zalesnykh’s passport back to her through Xpresspost, an expedited Canada Post service that allows recipients to track their packages. However, the package never made it back to its holder. Tracking information shows it vanished somehow in Montreal.

Without a passport, Zalesnykh had to cancel her flight to Kazakhstan, missing her father’s memorial. Not only was she unable to attend an important family event, but Zalesnykh estimates the cost of the new passport, a new visa and the cancelation fee for the flight total about $800. She also says booking a new last-minute flight will add to that sum.

In addition to the financial burden of the ordeal, Zalesnykh now has to worry about the possibility that she could become a victim of identity theft.

“I’m sitting on pins and needles praying [my passport] doesn’t get into bad hands,” Zalesnykh told CBC News.

When Canadian passports are lost or stolen they often end up being used to facilitate criminal activity, including ID theft. According to Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior intelligence officer and manager at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service who was also interviewed by the CBC, Canadian passports are highly valued on the black market, where they are sold to individuals who need to travel to foreign countries with forged documents.

“What is concerning is that thousands of Canadians send important personal information passports, applications and things get lost,” Zalesnykh continued. “It seems there is no security within the system even though they claim [on the website] ‘your information is secure with us.'”

Just three days after her passport was reported missing, Canada Post closed its investigation of the matter by issuing Zalesnykh a check for the $120 required to replace her passport. Now that Zalesnykh has gone public, however, it has decided to reopen the case and is looking into just how an item that was supposed to be tracked ended up missing.

If any of your personal documents, such as your birth certificate, Social Insurance card, credit card or passport are stolen or otherwise compromised, signing up for a credit monitoring service can help you protect your identity. Credit monitoring companies like Identity Guard proactively monitor your personal and financial information across a variety of media. If they find that your information has been linked to certain activity that could indicate fraud, they can alert you, giving you the best chance to freeze fraudsters out of your accounts.