The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre are continuing Fraud Prevention Month to help prevent more Canadians from falling victim to fraud. The Russell OPP has responded to over 20 cases of fraud since the beginning of March alone, most of which are identity theft.
Identity theft happens when criminals steal personal information for criminal purposes. This can happen through sophisticated means such as phishing scams, database breaches, or computer viruses, but it can also occur through dumpster diving or stealing mail. Once criminals get hold of personal information, they can commit identity fraud to access bank accounts, apply for loans or credit cards, obtain government benefits, and many other crimes, while leaving their unsuspecting victims responsible for the consequences.
Be wary of any unexpected communications requesting personal or financial information and keep an eye on bank and credit card statements for irregular charges. Shred personal and financial documents before throwing them out, always collect personal mail in a timely manner to prevent theft, and make sure to notify the post office and financial institutions before a move.
Refer to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website for more information on the various scams employed by criminals, as well as tips on self-protection. Anyone who suspects they are a target of fraud, or if they have already sent funds, should not be embarrassed. Instead, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501, or by visiting http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/