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Identity Theft Goes into the Laboratory

November 11, 2016


It’s an example of the ‘iceberg’ principle of what we might know about crime and identity theft. The idea is that, whatever we think we know, there is exponentially more that we don’t know or expect to find.

Earlier this year, Toronto Police were investigating cases of mail and identity thefts at Money Mart outlets. Their work lead to the discovery of what they called a ‘fraud lab’ near Bloor and Parliament Street.

The fact that the process of mail and identity theft has been ‘lab-ified’ might not be too much of a surprise. If nothing else, criminals are enterprising and the idea that they would set up a space to put a process to their nefarious activities makes sense.

But it’s the nature and extent of the materials police found that enlighten you to the extent to which your identity can be compromised. Along with the technological tools of trade, like computers and scanners, the police found the following items:

  • Financial statements, bank documents and cheques stolen from the mail
  • Fake driver’s licenses, generated and created in the victims’ names
  • Fake bank statements generated
  • Fake SIN cards
  • Fake government identification
  • Bills and tenancy documentation stolen from the mail
  • Pay cheques, blank cheques and direct-deposit statements
  • Student loan documents and bank loan documents
  • T4 slips, tax returns and medical documents

If nothing else, the range of items shows that the fraudsters can imitate anything they find in your mail. It means that not only are you at risk of identity theft, you are at risk of it many times over when your cheques or SIN card gets duplicated repeatedly.

The problem is the same for businesses and private citizens alike.

Following the discovery of the lab, police encouraged people to ‘protect your mail’ by shredding any mail or documents that have personal information before you throw them out.

Here are few other tips to protect you or your business from mail theft.

  • Collect your mail every day
  • Suspend mail delivery when on extended holidays
  • Make an official change of address when you move
  • Contact Canada Post if any mail fails to arrive
  • Shred any mail that shows personal information, including contact and financial data

When you think about how easy it is for anyone to walk up to your exterior mailbox and help themselves to whatever is inside – especially when they can clearly see when the mail is delivered – you get a better appreciation of how important it is to protect your mail box.

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