Securing Private Information
  Are You Prepared for Identity Theft?
by Garry Foster

When a stranger passes back your wallet or purse that you inadvertently dropped on the floor, that feeling of gratitude may soon dissipate when you realize that kind act was a cover-up for identification theft.

According to a recent CTV interview: “The suspect looks like a hero, but really, she’s buying time, ” said Detective Const. Michael Kripoff, while going over a surveillance video at a North Toronto police station. “She knows she has about an hour from that point to do whatever it is she set out to do. ”

During the interview, Graham McWaters, a security consultant and author of “The Canadian Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Other Fraud, ” pointed out that those circumstances, described by Detective Kripoff, are typical white collar crimes of this century.

With over twenty years of experience in the financial services industry, McWaters has first hand experience preventing personal identification theft and fraud. He will be offering identity theft prevention seminars in Canada to cover the exhaustive topic of securing private information for both the employee and the company.

“If you want to prevent fraud, you have to get ahead of the criminal, ” states McWaters, who explains that people and organizations need to know how criminal activity takes place, how to prevent it, what to do if theft occurs, and how to protect their own personal identification and that of their clients.

“There are plenty of opportunities for people to commit breaches leading to identity theft, ” he says. “We shouldn’t think that credit cards, PINs, and licenses are the only targets. ”

Of obvious concern are institutional lists that might have birth dates, Social Insurance Numbers and medical histories, but the mundane donor or membership lists are also valuable to identity thieves.

Identity theft can extend beyond the personal inconvenience that might cost you hundreds of hours to rectify during work time. For example, someone might steal your identity in such a way that you don’t suffer direct impact because the fraud involves an office or institution.

“In the medical industry, people have cloned children’s identity to defraud the health care system, ” says McWaters. “Cloned healthcare cards could be used by someone from another country who could have medical procedures performed. Who ends up paying for this fraudulent act? ”  

McWaters pointed out that privacy officers are needed in any facility whether it’s a small office or large operation. This employee would need to be aware of the privacy and technical issues relating to identity theft and be empowered to address such concerns as sensitive computer data and file transfers.

“It’s all about prevention, protection, and vigilance, ” says McWaters. “The last thing your company needs is media attention. You don’t want to be in the headlines. ” He warns that the next time your firm handles any private information, the public and clients will be cautious about working with you because of a previous breach.

After theft has occurred, your next option is the most expensive, explains McWaters. “You don’t want to call in a specialist organization to help pick up the pieces and restore order after a breach. Damage at that level has long-term effects on everyone involved. ” From our own personal experience, we all know the lesson that ‘an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure. ’

Return to Graham McWaters Page