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Fraud Prevention and Identity Theft

CBC Marketplace recently aired a program about credit card scams and identity theft. The program revealed that people who place alerts on their credit report or purchase credit monitoring services may not be adequately protecting themselves from further harm given gaps in the system. One possible solution they identify is to allow the consumer to put a security freeze on their credit report so that the credit report agency (Equifax or Transunion) will not disclose personal information or a credit score to a third party (such as a cell phone company or bank) which would otherwise allow a fraudster to obtain a credit card or cell phone account in the name of the consumer. Consumers in the US are able to do this at no charge.

Ontario did have legislation that reformed rules around access to credit reports including permitting security freezes. The legislation was passed in May 2018 but was never proclaimed in force before the Legislature ended its sitting and a new election was held.

A significant amount of identity theft is perpetrated against older adults in Canada according to Government of Canada information. Older adults are vulnerable to such scams and fraudsters target older adults given their vulnerability and accumulated wealth.

March is Fraud Prevention Month. Ontario and other provinces should continue to educate consumers as to how to protect themselves from identity theft (such as this Government of Canada information) and also review their consumer protection legislation to ensure that that consumers are equipped with the necessary tools to adequately protect themselves should they be unfortunate victims of such crimes.

CBC MARKETPLACE: How criminals are using the low-interest credit card scam to steal your identity

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