Many Canadians unable to identify warning signs of identity theft


Published September 22, 2020 at 10:30 pm


Do you know the warning signs that someone may have stolen your identity? If your answer is ‘no,’ you’re not alone.

A recent survey from Johnson Insurance found that nearly half of Canadians—48 per cent—don’t know how to spot the warning that they have become a victim of identity theft.

According to the findings, 27 per cent of Canadians have noticed an increase in suspicious COVID-19-related activity on fraudulent websites and online advertisements, while 23 per cent have noticed an increase of suspicious emails, and 20 per cent have identified a spike in scam calls and texts.

“COVID-19 has created new avenues for identity theft – including applications for the CERB in the name of an identity theft victim,” Alex Rafuse, vice president of Home & Auto for Johnson Insurance, said in a news release.

“With more people working from home during the pandemic – answering home phone calls or disposing of personal and work-related documents in residential recycling bins – there is a higher than normal susceptibility to fraud,” he continued.

Based on the results, most Canadians were familiar with the direct, financial warning signs of identity theft—36 per cent of respondents identified withdrawals or charges on their accounts that they can’t explain as a warning sign, while 33 per cent identified receiving bills for services they did not use as a warning sign.

However, Canadians are least familiar with more indirect signs, such as:

  • A health plan that won’t cover them because their medical records show a condition they don’t have
  • Not receiving expected bills or other mail
  • A creditor contacts them to approve or deny credit they did not apply for

“There are many ways that fraudsters can use personal information, beyond taking money from someone’s account, including applying for loans, renting an apartment or car, or committing crimes using false information,” Rafuse added.

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