Identity Theft: thieves now targetting regulators for your info
I received the following email on Friday from the Law Society of Upper Canada who regulates lawyers in Ontario. If nothing else, it is a timely reminder that having your identity stolen may cost you more over the long-term than the carnage in the stock-market. After all, you can own many stocks over a life-time but one only has one identity over a life-time. Here is an excerpt of the larger email:
“….More recently The Law Society itself has become the focus of some scam artists.
Impersonators or fraudsters are attempting to file changes of address and other contact information with The Law Society for certain lawyers. If successful, the fraudster can create a bogus office in the name of a legitimate practitioner, and divert mail and phone calls intended for that member for an illicit purpose…”
More often than note, the new bogus address is used to apply for credit cards and, in some instances, cell-phone accounts which obviously they use with the lawyer unknowingly being billed (and because you can’t pay an invoice you didn’t know about, you show up as a delinquent account in a credit report).
If nothing else, identity thieves have gotten quite brazen as to actually try to or scam regulators. For you and I, there are a couple of things to remember:
- If your name has to be published as a member of a profession or association, make sure you check on your contact details from time to to time to ensure someone has not changed it to carry out the scam above;
- Ask your regulator or association what, if any, precautions they are taking to protect your privacy; and
- Run a credit report at least once a year to ensure no one has opened an unauthorized account in your name. Here are instructions to receive your free credit report in Canada and your credit report in the United States.
Scams tend to increase during bad times so please do be diligent about your identity.
…and for those who live in Canada, please remember to vote today. Remember you get the government you deserve and apathy or indifference is returned in kind by politicians you did not elect.