The World of Fraudsters: Scams, Identity Theft, and Identity Fraud

Posted April 27, 2017 5:04 pm & filed under Articles
The World of Fraudsters: Scams, Identity Theft, and Identity Fraud


We’ve all heard about the ubiquity of scams in today’s highly digitized world of interconnectedness and fight for privacy. There’s no doubt that the conveniences that have come with the Internet of Things (IoT) have also opened wide doors of opportunity for hackers and scammers. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reports that Canadians saw the most mass marketing fraud (i.e., scams) than any other country in the past few years; 2014 topped the list with a whopping 42,471 Canadian complaints.

Scams have evolved to become much more than just loss of money for victims: scams often involve the loss of personally identifiable information (PII), which can give way to identity fraud. And identity fraud is nothing to shrug off. In fact, most Canadians – 75% to be exact – are now more concerned about fraud than they were just five years ago. Today, the risks are well-known and your customers are looking for protection.

We know “identity theft” and “identity fraud” are serious matters, but if asked, many people would have a tough time differentiating. Often, the two words are used interchangeably, by both experts and consumers alike. So let’s dive into the details.

Identity theft is the actual act of stealing other people’s PII, such as their address, birthdate, Social Insurance Number (SIN), credit card numbers, driver’s license number, or any combination of these, usually with the intention of assuming an identity or reselling the stolen PII for financial benefit (as is most often the case in data breaches). Identity fraud, on the other hand, is when the criminal takes this information, without authorization, and defrauds the person (i.e., opens up a bank account or takes out a loan in their name). Thus, it can be generally said that identity theft precedes identity fraud.

Let’s consider this scenario:

You’re traveling on business and decide to have a bite to eat at a restaurant. You have just finished eating and give your waiter a nod, letting him know you’re ready to pay. He brings the portable payment system over, you swipe and enter your PIN, but he tells you it doesn’t seem to be working properly. He mumbles that that machine had been acting up earlier and then says he’ll go grab a different one. He quickly leaves your table – just as you realize he still has your corporate credit card. You think this is a little unusual but don’t think much of it, as he appears within a minute with your card and a new portable payment system. You swipe, enter your PIN again, and he tells you it was a success. A week later, your credit card statement comes by your desk and, to your horror, you see hundreds of dollars’ worth of online purchases you never made. A couple days after that, you see a story in the news about the restaurant you had dined in: apparently one of their waiters – your waiter – was scamming customers by skimming credit cards after telling them there was an issue with the portable payment system. This scam artist committed identity theft the second he skimmed your company credit card (i.e., stealing it). He subsequently committed identity fraud when he used it to make online purchases.

Because scammers have found an affinity for Canadians, your customers are prime targets. While nothing is 100% foolproof, offering a proactive identity protection program, like Generali Global Assistance’s (GGA) Identity Protection, can give your customers the peace of mind they need so that the daily stresses of life don’t also include being scammed. Increase your brand loyalty by offering the protection your customers are looking for.