'Very plausible identity' can be made with stolen passport info: prof
Last Updated: Friday, December 12, 2008 | 12:40 PM MT
A University of Calgary professor says applications for government documents are prime targets for identity thieves.
“These documents are significant. They probably contain every fact about your life, everything you could possibly need to create a very, very plausible identity,” said identity theft expert Tom Keenan.
Canada Post is trying to track down dozens of passport applications from southern B.C. and Alberta, containing sensitive personal information, that went missing en route to Quebec.
Three packages containing more than 50 passport applications from Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, Alta., and Cranbrook, B.C., were scanned at a postal facility in Lethbridge in late October. But they were never delivered to the Passport Canada offices in Gatineau, Que.
In an unrelated incident, Calgary resident Darko Mitevski, a Macedonian immigrant, said Canada Post has told him a package containing his family's citizenship applications is lost.
Mitevski is worried that Canada Post doesn't know the whereabouts of the package, which was full of personal, confidential information.
“I will be nervous probably [for] the next couple of years,” he said.
Keenan said Mitevski should be concerned. Identity theft is on the rise around the world because it is very profitable, he said.
“I would be panicked if my immigration file was lost. This would be like the Holy Grail of identity theft because not only would you have a credit card number, a date of birth, you would have all kinds of personal information,” he said.
Among the risk is someone cloning your identity to take out huge loans, said Keenan.
Companies that lose sensitive documents should be held responsible, he said. At the very least they should have to conduct frequent credit checks to make sure the information had not fallen into the wrong hands, said Keenan.
Canada Post won't comment on Mitevki's package or reveal how many of the packages it handles are lost every year.
In the past 15 months, a total of 107 passport applications in seven priority courier parcels, including the three recent lost parcels, have gone missing while being handled by Canada Post, Passport Canada confirmed.