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The experts

Corporal Tim Laurence, RCMP Integrated Counterfeit Enforcement Team

John Russo, Vice President, Legal and Senior Privacy Officer, Equifax Canada

Staff Sergeant Paul Lobsinger, Fraud Branch, Waterloo Region Police Services

Brad Brain, CFP, CLU, Senior Financial Advisor, Manulife Securities Inc., Fort St. John, B.C.

Client profile
George is a 56-year-old consultant in Waterloo, Ont. He and his wife, Ann, have two university-aged children. They’re financially stable, have one credit card they pay in full every month, and $100,000 remaining on their mortgage. Their daughter, Stephanie, attends university in Montreal.

Recently, George started receiving collection calls for delinquent charges on credit cards he doesn’t own. His identity has been stolen.

The situation

George and Ann pay bills in full and on time, so when a collections department called, they assumed it was an error. But George kept receiving calls from credit-card companies he’s never done business with. The couple always tossed documents offering pre-authorized credit cards without shredding them. He also noticed $1,200 missing from a bank account.

The issues

  • George and Ann’s stellar credit rating is in jeopardy. They didn’t know how much damage had been done or how to restore it.
  • The couple established a joint bank account with Stephanie so they could easily deposit funds for tuition and living expenses. Because a tuition payment was due, Ann had contacted the bank to waive the daily maximum until the payment came out. But Stephanie didn’t withdraw the $1,200.
  • After checking their credit report, they found five bogus credit cards in George’s name, with more than $100,000 outstanding.

Read: 7 tips for preventing ID theft while vacationing

The solution

John Russo, chief privacy officer for Equifax Canada, says many consumers have no idea their identities have been compromised until collection calls start.

“The first thing to do is request a copy of your credit file,” he says. “Review it carefully, and report any discrepancies for investigation and resolution.”

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Protecting your identity

Check out tips on preventing ID theft, and what to do when your SIN
is stolen.

Equifax had 7,500 fraud victim notifications on its accounts in 2000. By the end of 2012, they had issued 28,651, a 24% increase from 2011. A consumer must pass through several levels of authentication such as confirming employment information, previous addresses and filing a sworn affidavit with the agency before a fraud alert is placed on his account.

Read: Protect your identity on smartphones

Corporal Tim Laurence of the RCMP Integrated Counterfeit Enforcement Team recommends consumers who suspect they have been victims of identity theft first contact the police and then the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. They should complete an Identity Theft Statement to provide to every credit agency, in addition to police reports. Get the form online at: www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.

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