The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 479 complaints of mail forwarding fraud in 2016. (Photo: Reuters)
You may want to start paying more attention to your mail, because mail-forwarding scams have not only dramatically risen in 2016 but may continue to remain a popular form of identity theft.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 479 complaints of mail forwarding fraud in 2016, which is a huge increase from the 63 complaints received in 2015.
"If you ... have received a mail-forwarding notification in the mail, or either you've seen that your mail has stopped, they [fraudsters] definitely have your information, and it's probably a lot worse than what you think," Lisanne Roy Beauchamp, acting team leader for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre told CBC News.
One of the reasons the scheme is becoming so popular is because it’s easy to carry out.
Fraudsters will find a person’s name, phone number and address online and then put in a mail forwarding request to Canada Post using that information.
They will then request that the mail be rerouted to houses that were abandoned, up for sale or vacant. The fraudster will collect the victim’s mail from those locations and use the information to buy things, usually by applying for credit cards in the victim’s name.
Usually the victims don’t know they’ve been targeted until they get a mail change notification, their regular bills aren’t arriving or they may receive credit card bills for purchases they didn’t make.
Though Roy Beauchamp says that Canada Post is able to stop a high number of fraudulent mail forwarding requests, some requests still succeed.
Here’s how you can help protect yourself:
- Try to limit the personal information you share over the Internet and make sure to use a secure connection when sharing such info;
- Make sure to frequently collect your mail;
- Monitor your monthly bills. If you haven’t received a bill, immediately contact the company;
- If you are moving, make sure to file a Change of Address notification with Canada Post and notify all your financial institutions about the move;
- If you are going to be away for a while, file a Hold Mail Request with Canada Post.
If you received a notification of an address change that you didn’t request, you should contact Canada Post as soon as possible.