Identity theft – It’s worse than people think

Friday, September 28th, 2007

‘The truth is it may already have happened’

Frank Luba

Surrey-based identity theft expert George Greenwood says that credit-card and debit-card fraud is just a small part of the problem

Canadians don’t have any idea how bad the identity theft problem is, says Surrey author George Greenwood.

“Most people have the feeling that they are careful, they do the right thing, so therefore it can’t happen to them,” said Greenwood, author of a new book called In Your Good Name.

“The truth is, it may already have happened and you don’t know about it,” he added. “It’s way below people’s radar.”

Greenwood helped draft a Surrey Board of Trade resolution calling on Ottawa to strengthen the Criminal Code against identity theft and patch loopholes against possession of other people’s personal information.

The resolution, unanimously approved earlier this month at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, also calls for the creation of a passport-like document for victims of identity theft so they could verify their identity if challenged.

Phonebusters, a police task force set up to target telemarketing fraud, received 7,600 calls from identity-theft victims who had lost more than $16 million in 2006.

But Phonebusters believes that figure represents as little as five per cent of the actual total.

The Canadian Institute of Mortgage Brokers and lenders reported that mortgage fraud jumped 400 per cent between 1999 and 2001, with fraud totalling $300 million in 2001 alone.

Greenwood himself wonders how there can be five million more social insurance numbers active in Canada than there are residents.

Greenwood said credit-card and debit-card problems are just a small part of the identity theft problem. A bigger concern is people coming into Canada and appropriating another person’s identity.

Anyone with your medical Care Card, for example, could get treatment that would go into your record — possibly complicating other treatment you might require.

Greenwood is also writing another book on the topic but this time he is collaborating with someone who committed commercial identity theft. “What he could do in a place of business will curl your hair,” he said.

In the meantime, Greenwood has four upcoming seminars on helping people prevent identity theft. The next event, which is free to the public, is Oct. 14 at the Pacific Inn in Surrey.

More information is available at

© The Vancouver Province 2007


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