A Calgary man is warning others of fraud involving mail, after narrowly escaping being a victim of identity theft.
The man, who was on a three-week vacation in Europe, returned to the mail stack after discovering an attempt to send his mail to an undisclosed address.
"I found two mail confirmations from Canada Post, one on my behalf and one on a party name that I did not recognize, that was a foreign name," Brian told Calgary Einopener.
The CBC has agreed to use Brian's first name only.
"Well, I was obviously suspicious. And I called Canada Post and canceled it. And I was lucky to be back home two days before the mail forwarding was to take effect."
Brian said the Canada Post would not tell anyone who tried to divert his mail.
"Canada Post wouldn't tell me that," he said. "Only after repeatedly asking myself was they told me it was an address in BC, but they would not give me that information."
Canada Post advised Brian to contact Equifax and TransUnion credit agencies, which he says he did.
"About a week later, I started getting credit cards in the mail, one in my name and the other in the name of the individual, the other person sending the mail from my address," he said. "And when I called to Visa, I found out that someone had successfully ordered secondary cards on my credit card. So there were additional credit cards issued by Visa through a bank in my name and this other name.
Brian immediately called his credit card company, Visa.
"They wouldn't tell me much. I just learned through my personal attention that it's easy to get another credit card in your account. What you need is your name, your address, your date of birth, and you need a password."
Brian wants to warn others against a very common password practice.
"My verbal password was the one I was asked when I first opened phone banking, which may have been 10 years ago. And that was my mom's maiden name, and that was what the banks were looking for, "he said. "Doing some research, we found that the mother's female name is a trade mark on the dark web."
Brian says your mother's maiden name is a easily compromised password.
He is relieved to have been a victim, but upset at how easily that could have happened.
"So if you think about it, you go to a hotel. You give them your passport. You give them your credit card. And then you fill out this form with your address. So, I'm just speculating here, but I'm assuming it's interior work in a hotel where they had all my critical information, "he said." And they knew we were far away. "
If Brian had not returned home a few days before the forwarding of mail, all of his mail would have begun to be sent – including credit cards ordered by Visa.
"So they would have my credit cards in my name and theirs," he says.
The BBC has contacted Canada Post to ask for mail fraud.
An email response from the Canadian Post's media relations department shows the agency has a lot of checks and balances.
"For all requests for personal online or online submissions, Canada Post has followed a multi-faceted identity verification process … To avoid undermining our security access, we do not publicly discuss the specific measures we are taking."
The email goes on to say that Canada Post works closely with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center, banks and police, and that fraud-related issues are far beyond Canada Post.
"For example, someone who successfully managed to forward someone's mail to an address was most likely fraudulently obtained and used personal information for an item such as a credit card before making a mailing request to Canada."
Bottom line, if you received a Notice of Change from Canada Post that you did not request, contact us immediately. Hence, the case will go to the Canada Post Fraud Center, the Canadian Fraud Center and the credit bureaus to double the credit report checks.
The brain, which narrowly escaped being a victim, is unwilling to leave it to the system.
"Obviously, this is something anyone could do without too much effort," Brain said. "Quite frankly, when I called Canada Post, I got, I think, three or four calls from different departments, you know, from the DDP, the headquarters and the fraud department. And my left hand didn't really know what the right hand was doing. I certainly didn't have much self-confidence after talking to Canada Post about security. "
Brian thinks it is worth warning.
"This was easily done. All I need is a driver's license, from what I can tell, in order to pass someone's mail, "he said. "And, if you have somebody's vital information, it's pretty easy to get a fake driver's license."
The CBC is contacting the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center for more information on this type of mail fraud.
"At the moment, the data we collect about ID fraud, which includes sending mail is incomplete and difficult to collect," an official wrote in an email.
The attached brief report states that the agency received 9,434 ID card theft complaints and 8,836 ID card fraud reports from Canadians in 2018. This is similar to 2017, when the agency received 9,660 and 8,737 reports, respectively. The numbers for 2019 are still being added, but the report notes that as a whole, the agency estimates that these figures represent "less than five percent of the total death toll".
The agency's website reminds Canadians not to provide sensitive banking or personal information, including a driver's license, social security number over the phone or the Internet, and advises them to get a free credit report once a year from Equifax or TransUnion.
More information is available at antifrustrated.ca or by calling the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center at 1-888-495-8501.
With files from Calgary Einopener.