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Mar 22, 2012 - 57% of workers exposed to workplace harassment. A recent survey by Queen's University revealed that 6 out of 10 workers exposed to workplace harassment. Every business must have proper policies in place to educate workers and investigate these occurrences. Read More
Mar 21, 2012 - Improper Harassment Investigation - In a recent case where a senior manager was alleged to have made racist comments to an employee The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) designated a labour relations manager, as lead investigator. The investigation was not conducted correctly and the court awarded hefty wrongful dismissal, as well as substantial punitive and aggravated damages. Another example of retaining an experienced unbiased third party investigator. Read More
Feb 7, 2012 - Second bullying case at Fredericton school CBC
Feb 6, 2012 - Canadian financial fraudsters prefer foreign exchanges: RCMP Financial Post
Jan 23, 2012 - Workplace fraud costing Canada's SMEs at least $3.2 billion a year - probably much more Calgary Herald
Dec 6, 2011 - 40% of Canadians bullied at work, expert says CBC
Dec 6, 2011 - Workplace fraud strikes quarter of businesses Globe and Mail
Dec 2, 2011 - CSI warns teenagers that "sexting" can be a criminal offence. Call for info 888-818-5251
Nov 25, 2011 - Judge sentences fugitive fraudster to seven years Ottawa Citizen
Nov 18, 2011 - Important lessons for employers and lawyers on workplace harassment investigations First Reference
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Identity theft has become one of the fastest growing crimes in Canada and the United States. In Canada, the PhoneBusters National Call Centre received 7,629 identity theft complaints by Canadians in 2002 that reported total losses of more than $8.5 million and an additional 2,250 complaints in the first quarter of 2003 that reported total losses of more than $5.3 million. In addition, two major Canadian credit bureaus, Equifax and Trans Union, indicate that they receive approximately 1400 to 1800 Canadian identity theft complaints per month, the majority of which are from the province of Ontario.
One reason for the increase in identity theft may be that consumers often become victims of identity theft without having any direct contact with the identity thieves who acquire their personal data. Simply by doing things that are part of everyday routine — charging dinner at a restaurant, using payment cards to purchase gasoline or rent a car, or submitting personal information to employers and various levels of government — consumers may be leaving or exposing their personal data where identity thieves can access and use it without the consumers’ knowledge or permission.
How Identity Theft Occurs
Here are just a few examples of how identity theft is committed:
Theft of Payment Cards and Documents
Identity thieves often steal purses or wallets, and steal newly issued cards or credit card applications from your residential mailbox. Some, known as "dumpster divers," will even rummage through trash to pick out bank and credit card statements. Letters that contain "pre-approved credit-card" offers, if not shredded or destroyed, can be sent back to the issuing bank requesting that the card be sent to the recipient (i.e., you), but at a new address of the identity thief's choosing.
Some identity thieves also engage in "shoulder surfing": looking over your shoulder or from a nearby location as you enter your Personal Identification Number (PIN) at an ATM machine. By installing a fake ATM device that reads your card's encoded data, or by distracting you while your card is taken or switched with another, an identity theft can then use your PIN to drain your bank account without your knowledge.
Identity thieves also "skim" or "swipe" customer credit cards at restaurants or cash stations, using an electronic device known as a skimmer. The skimmer records the personal information data from the magnetic stripes on the backs of the cards. Identity thieves then transfer or transmit those data to another location, sometimes overseas, where it is re-encoded onto fraudulently made credit cards.
E-Mail and Website "Spoofing"
Many criminals who want to obtain personal data from people online use a technique known as "spoofing": the creation of e-mails and websites that appear to belong to legitimate businesses, such as financial institutions or online auction sites. Consumers who receive e-mails claiming to be from a legitimate business are often directed to a website, appearing to be from that business, at which the consumers are directed to enter large amounts of personal data. In fact, the criminals who created these e-mails and websites have no real connection with those businesses. Their sole purpose is to obtain the consumers' personal data to engage in various fraud schemes.
Theft from Company or Government Databases
Law enforcement agencies in both Canada and the United States have noticed a significant increase in efforts by identity thieves to access large databases of personal information that private companies and government agencies maintain. Criminals have broken into offices to steal computer hard drives, bribed or compromised employees into obtaining personal data for them, and hacked into databases.
What You Can Do Today to Minimize Your Risk of Identity Theft
- Sign all credit cards when you receive them and never lend them to anyone.
- Cancel and destroy credit cards you do not use and keep a list of the ones you use regularly.
- Carry only the identification information and credit cards that you actually need. Do not carry your social insurance card (Canada) or social security card (United States); leave it in a secure place. This applies also to your passport unless you need it for traveling out of country.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles and follow up with your creditors and utility companies if your bills do not arrive on time.
- Carefully check each of your monthly credit card statements. Immediately report lost or stolen credit cards and any discrepancies in your monthly statements to the issuing credit card company.
- Shred or destroy paperwork you no longer need, such as bank machine receipts, receipts from electronic and credit card purchases, utility bills, and any document that contains personal and/or financial information. Shred or destroy pre-approved credit card applications you do not want before putting them in the trash.
- Secure personal information in your home or office so that it is not readily accessible to others, who may have access to the premises.
- Do not give personal information out over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you are the one who initiated the contact and know the person or organization with whom you are dealing. Before you share such information, ensure that the organization is legitimate by checking its website to see if it has posted any fraud or scam alert when its name has been used improperly, or by calling its customer service number listed on your account statement or in the phone book.
- Password-protect your credit card, bank, and phone accounts, but do not keep a written record of your PIN number, social insurance or social security number, or computer passwords where an identity thief can easily find them. Do not carry such information in your purse or wallet.
- Order a copy of your credit report from the major credit reporting agencies at least once every year. Check with the credit bureaus to see whether there is a charge for this service. Make sure your credit report is accurate and includes only those activities that you have authorized.
If You Are A Victim
The Department of the Solicitor General of Canada and the United States Department of Justice advise that if you have become a victim of identity theft, you should take three immediate steps. First, contact your bank or credit card company if you have had your checks or credit cards stolen or wrongfully obtained. Second, report the matter to your local police of jurisdiction. Police authorities often will take police reports even if the crime ultimately may be investigated by another law enforcement agency. In addition, a creditor who mistakenly believes that you are the person responsible for a fraudulent transaction may want to see a copy of a police report before correcting your credit account or credit report.
Third, report your identity theft case immediately to the appropriate government and private-sector organizations listed below. Canadian and American agencies such as these are compiling information on identity theft to identity theft trends and patterns, and using the information to assist law enforcement agencies in possible investigations.
Resources for Canadian Victims of Identity Theft
PhoneBusters National Call Centre (PNCC)
Ontario Provincial Police Anti-Rackets
Toll Free: (888) 495-8501
Toll Free Fax: (888) 654-9426
Credit Reporting Agencies
Place fraud alerts on your credit reports by contacting the credit bureaus that operate in Canada.
Report fraud: (800) 465-7166
Trans Union Canada
Report fraud: (877) 525-3823
Number crunch: Privacy stats and facts
Sources: Statistics Canada, Public Safety and Emergency Prepardness Canada, CBC.ca, Consumer Reports, InformationWeek.com, Safeboot.com, Buildings Magazine, Electronic Privacy Information Centre, Salon.com, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
- $956: The amount the average household (which makes online purchases) spends on their online purchases in one year
- The percentage of users that buy online that are concerned about financial transactions conducted over the internet: Over 75%
- 7,629: The number of identity theft complaints received by Canada’s Phone Busters call center in 2002
- $8.5 million: The financial losses those identity theft victims endured
- The average number of identity theft complaints per month: between 1,400 and 1,800
- The annual cost of identity theft for consumers, banks, credit card firms, stores and other businesses: $2.5 billion a year
- 1.4 million: The number of social insurance cards in circulation above and beyond the population of Canada
- 91%: The number of families that have spyware identity security software on their at home computer
- 0: The percentage of families that knew it was on their computer
- 41%: The number of households that use spyware detection software
- The number of spyware detection systems that can eradicate 100% of spyware: 0
- 83%: The number of financial companies that admit they have had their computer systems hacked
- $12 billion: The global cost of online hacking last year
- The percentage of spam e-mails that carry bugs that inform spammers that an email address is valid when the user simply opens the email: 50%
- 100%: The total percentage of personal emails that Google Gmail will scan to deliver tailored advertising to identity based on what you write about
- 31: The number of privacy and civil liberties groups that signed an open letter to Google, urging it to suspend the Gmail service until its privacy issues are resolved
- The number of statutes amended by The U.S. Patriot Act to give the United States' government authority to conduct searches, monitor email and internet usage, share information between intelligence agencies and seize personal information: 15
- $200 million: The amount the Act authorizes the FBI to spend every year to develop online spying systems