Fears growing over identity theft

Four in five Canadians think identity theft is a serious problem in Canada, and concern is growing as the number of people having personal experience with the crime increases, according to a recent telephone poll. And IT execs take note — many Canadians feel that more can be done by others to alleviate the problem.

  • Just under half (46%) think that banks and credit card companies are doing enough to protect consumers from identity theft and fraud.
  • Half (49%) think law enforcement is doing enough and 47 percent think the media is doing a good job protecting them.
  • Only minorities of Canadians feel that the government (40%), credit bureaus(37%) and retailers (35%) are doing enough to help fight the identity theft problem in Canada.

“Canadian consumers want more to be done to help fight identity theft and fraud across the board,” said Sheila McCracken, who represents Intersections’ Canadian solutions group, one of the sponsors of the study. “These results support the need for organizations, such as banks, credit card companies and retailers to do more to prevent identity theft collaboratively with government, law enforcement and other organizations.”

The survey, called the Identity Theft Index Canada (ITIC), found that one in four Canadians reported that they have been, or someone they personally know has been, a victim of identity theft.

The types of fraud resulting from identity theft crime are wide-ranging, according to the ITIC poll. Among those who have been a victim or personally know someone who has been a victim of identity theft, 70% said the identity theft resulted in unauthorized credit card purchases, the most frequent, but least costly form of identity theft fraud for consumers. However, significant percentages of these respondents reported more serious frauds, including takeover of existing credit card accounts (43%), the opening of new credit card accounts (36%) or new loans (22%), unauthorized bank account access (42%) and the use of the victims’ personal information in other types of frauds, such as to obtain government benefits or medical care (24%).

“Many cases of identity theft perpetrated against Canadians are resulting in serious crimes that go well beyond simple credit card fraud where the consumer’s liability has traditionally been limited,” said Sheila. “These more significant frauds can have serious implications for consumers in terms of losses.”

The survey was conducted by Ipsos-Reid for Intersections Inc. and Carlson Marketing Group Canada, Ltd.

Subscribers to Ipsos-Reid’s news service can access more information, including results by region within Canada, at www.ipsos-na.com

Tips on recognizing, reporting, and stopping identity theft are offered on the Intersections Inc. site.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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