Canada’s fastest growing crime may have bank robbers reconsidering their options.
Fraud researchers and police say identity theft – which can range from credit card misuse to more serious violations such as impersonating someone to take out a mortgage – has led to an increase of organized crime in Canada.
“What’s easier and what’s safer – sitting in a basement somewhere, with a computer, stealing somebody’s identity and all the funds out of their bank account or walking in with a gun into a bank?” said Kevin Scott, president of the Canadian Identity Theft Prevention Association. “This is obviously where a lot of criminals are migrating right now.”
Scott says children are now also becoming victims because some criminals manage to steal social insurance numbers from infants.
“This is really one of the issues that is starting to happen throughout North America,” he said.
To combat these problems, a new centre for identity theft victims was officially launched in Vancouver Thursday.
The Canadian Identity Theft Support Centre, funded by the feds and private partners, has been set up to help victims dealing with the fallout of identity theft. It has a help line – 1-866-436-5461 – and four employees who can provide step-by-step support on the phone.
The centre began its work back in April but it did not officially launch its operation until now.
Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart applauds the move to open the operation but she says there are existing legislative gaps which continue to pose hurtles.
Stoddart says the passage of two key pieces of legislation – including an anti-spam bill – would help to reduce concerns.
The RCMP, which is also working to crack down on identity theft on the enforcement end, says it difficult to crack down on the crime once it is committed, especially due to technology.
“The people using that information, they can use it globally,” said Sgt. Luce Mormandin, the national identity fraud co-oridnator for the force. “The crime has become one without boundaries.”
The RCMP recommends tips for Canadians to protect themselves, including hiding banking PIN numbers, using a shredder to destroy personal documents, and not carrying SIN cards in wallets.