Property Titles

Criminals stealing property by taking over land titles without the original owner’s knowledge is nothing new.  It often starts with  Identity Theft and for several years it has been more common in  hot real estate markets.  That happens when financial institutions don’t have the manpower to verify buyers adequately and the criminals use stolen personal information at the Land Titles Office, to impersonate the original owner.  And the property theft is much easier if the owner has a clear title to the property.  People have been known to apply for a new mortgage as the first step to downsizing, only to find they don’t own the home they are living in.  In fact, the new owner, a criminal, has already taken out a mortgage on the property and disappeared with the money.

So the question becomes, what can you do as a property owner, to prevent such activities?  First, once every 6 to 12 months, simply go to a Registry Office, spend the $25.00 or so, and order a copy of your title, so you can see if there are details listed that aren’t legitimate. 

Second, set up a large Line Of Credit, using the property as collateral.  The financial institution will register that on the title.  If you don’t use the Line of Credit, it doesn’t cost anything for interest.  But someone attempting to take over the title will have to obtain clearance of the Line Of Credit first, which will raise red flags.  If you presently have a mortgage, you could set up the Line Of Credit quite easily when you renew your mortgage.  The Line Of Credit could be viewed as a type of “poison pill” against would-be property thieves.

Title Theft – another Identity Theft risk  and  another example of a crime for which we can take some simple steps to significantly reduce our risk.

Please go to for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield. Contact us at

For information on other services we have available, please visit

Social Media

We have talked about the fact that much of our personal information is in places over which we have no control.  We’ve also pointed out some steps we can take to keep that information safe where we do have control.  In this technological world, the area that appears to be the biggest problem for us – and a great source of information for the criminals, is Social Media.  Many criminals view social media as a primary source for #Identity Theft.  In the June, 2016 issue of MoneySense magazine, an article discusses data compiled by Equifax Canada and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.  “Canadians between the ages of 19 and 35 now account for a whopping 50% of the more than $10 billion annually defrauded through identity theft scams.”

You probably know of situations where individuals have shared personal information unnecessarily on social media.  Each of us has control over that in our own use of social media – let’s use that control!  We may think we’re sharing something with our friends, but technology may be allowing our friends’ friends to also receive that same information.  MoneySense simply says, “Don’t over share personal information (like your home or e-mail address) on social networks.”

This use of social media is now starting long before the age of 19.  Parents should be discussing these dangers with children when the child first starts using social media, insisting that if the child isn’t sure about something, check with a parent before sharing information.  But in many cases, the information may not seem dangerous to the child, which means constant communication and monitoring by parents.  Just one more task added to your “To Do” list!

It has been stated that in the U.S., more than 140,000 children are having their identities stolen each year.  Unfortunately, the theft may not be recognized for many years – until the child is old enough to apply for other documents or cards.

Reduce your risk and that of other people you know, by limiting the personal information you provide through social media.  Prevent #IdentityTheft!

Please go to for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield. Contact us at

For information on other services we have available, please visit


In the last issue, we suggested photocopying the contents of your wallet or purse, in case they are lost or stolen and become #IdentityTheft.  Having copies of everything makes restoring your identity much easier.  However, you must be sure to use a secure photocopier when doing so.  This topic draws a lot of attention in our #IdentityTheft Seminars.

Virtually every photocopier made since 2002 has  a hard drive which captures and stores all documents ever scanned on it.  That means when the machine is sold or traded in on a newer model, all of that scanned material may go with it.  It’s common for us to ask a business or organization to make a copy of a document for us, without realizing that the document is likely to go with the copier some day. 

We understand that Sharp now makes a copy machine with a built-in program to delete scanned documents, but check with your machine’s manufacturer.  There are two possible solutions, at least for your copy machine.  First, when yours is worn out or obsolete, remove the hard drive and drill some holes through it.  Second, hire a technician with high grade software to over-write everything on the hard drive.  That may be expensive, but not nearly as bad as being a victim of #IdentiyTheft through information you gave away.  That takes care of documents on your machine.

Copy machines owned by someone else is another story; many businesses and institutions now lease copy machines rather than buying them outright.  Unfortunately, at least for security reasons, many lease contracts require that when the lease ends, the copy machine must be in working condition.  Of course that means the hard drive couldn’t be removed, so the over-write option is the only one available to most lessees.  But check with the maunufacturer.

The best thing you can do if you have a photocopier, is to contact the manufacturer and determine what you can and cannot do.  If you are leasing a machine, this would be a good topic to discuss with your supplier, not only for the machine you have, but also about the next one you lease.  Avoid being a victim of #IdentityTheft!

Please go to for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield. Contact us at

For information on other services we have available, please visit

Necessary Documents

Many of us are in the habit of carrying various pieces of identification most of the time.  Some of that identification, and the information it contains, needs to be carried with us – an example is our Driver’s License.  And no doubt we need our credit cards on a regular basis.  Not only may we need those pieces of identification, the Driver’s License also provides Photo ID.  But two things to keep in mind:  First, criminals now have the technology to create their own forged Driver’s License using all of your information and their own picture that’s #IdentityTheft!.  Second, Credit Cards can be copied, at least to the extent that the number can be transferred to a blank card (white card with a mag stripe).  Those examples simply indicate the risks if our wallet or purse is lost or stolen.

Another issue is the fact that most of us carry information that isn’t necessary.  The two best examples are Birth Certificate and Social Insurance Card.  Police tell us that we should never  carry those documents with us unless we need them where we are going!  There are two reasons for that:  First, if you lose your wallet or purse, or have them stolen, the criminals love to have those documents to completely steal your identity; they can literally become you – that’s complete #IdentiyTheft!  Second, if you keep those pieces of identification in a safe place at home or safety deposit box, and your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, you still have those cards to re-create your identity.

Another step you can take to speed up the process of restoring your identity is to make a photocopy of all your personal information.  The only caution there is that you should use a photocopier over which you have some control.  Most copiers now capture and retain everything that is ever scanned.  This topic will be covered in more detail in the next issue.

While it’s fresh in your mind, look at all the cards and personal information you have in your wallet or purse right now.  Remove whatever you won’t need the next time you leave home.  Let’s take control of the information over which we already have the ability to control!

Prevent #IdentityTheft!

Please go to for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield. Contact us at

For information on other services we have available, please visit

Biometric ID Theft 2

In our last post we discussed the fact that Biometric Identification, while appearing to be a more secure system, also has its limitations since once added to a computer database it becomes digitized just like a credit card or Social Insurance Number.

Jake Stroup, in an article for “the balance”, points out that biometric identification has its own limitations.  For example, “You may be able to get a new credit card in two weeks once you have all the information to the bank or credit issuing authority, but who will issue you a new set of fingerprints to replace the stolen ones?”

He also points out that a smile can distort facial features – the reason why we’re told mot to smile and show teeth in a driver’s license or passport photo.  “But the biggest consideration is that a biometric identity system is only going to be as good as the information that’s put into it in the first place.  In other words, your fingerprint won’t tell anyone who you are, all it can do is keep you from using somebody else’s identity once you are in the system.  In fact, identity theft expert John Sileo said, ‘If we implement biometrics without doing our due diligence on protecting the identity, we are doomed to repeat history – and our thumbprint will become just another Social Security Number.'”

The message is simple – Biometric Identification has some benefits, but don’t let it give you a false sense of security.

Please go to for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield.  Contact us at

For information on other services we have available, please visit

Please share this information to help keep others safe.

Biometric ID Theft

You’re probably familiar with the term “Biometric Identification” – using your unique finger prints, facial recognition, voice or retinas to identify you.  They may be unique, but when installed on a computer, the information is still a string of numbers, it’s digitized.

The article, “Biometric Identification and Identity Theft”, by Jake Stroup at “the balance” states that when the information is stored on a computer, a database is a database, whether it’s a credit card number or a digital voice print. A hacker can still steal such data from a computer or network. 

“As far as security is concerned, many experts agree that maintaining “token” forms of identification are probably superior.  Token identification is a card, password, personal identification number (PIN), etc.  It is something that can be canceled or changed if it is lost, misplaced or stolen.  On the other hand, biometric identification can’t be lost, misplaced, or loaned to a friend, but it also can’t be replaced if it’s compromised either.  This reality, combined with certain privacy issues (tracking, profiling, consumer-related privacy issues, etc.), is making experts give serious consideration to whether biometrics are a viable option on a large scale.

More information on Biometric Identification in our next post.

Please go to for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield.  Contact us at

For information on other services we have available, please visit

Please share this information to help keep others safe.

Synthetic ID Theft

In our Identity Theft, Fraud and Scam seminars, we often mention that in 2005, at any given time, there were approximately 300 internet chat rooms on which 60,000 criminals around the world were buying and selling our personal information.  Now we see why!

Experian has reported that according to the Federal Trade Commission, Synthetic Identity Theft is now the fastest growing type of identity fraud.  It is representing 80 to 85% of all current identity fraud.

Criminals create synthetic ID theft by merging real and fake personal information of individuals to create a new identity.  The information used can be names, addresses, birthdays and Social Insurance Numbers, all bought on the Dark Web.

Be aware that if you start to receive mail or phone calls asking about new credit accounts, or you get mail addressed to a different name, it may indicate synthetic ID theft.

Note that starting in 2018, our IDShield from Kroll includes 24/7 monitoring of personal information on the Dark Web.

Please go to for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield.  Contact us at

For information on other services we have available, please visit

Please share this information to help keep others safe.

Control Data

We have discussed the issue of personal information in areas over which we have no control, however we will be coming back to it in future #IdentityTheft posts when discussing where criminals obtain that information.  This time, we’ll look at some areas where we do have control and some steps we can take to prevent the loss of that information.

Limiting the information we provide to legitimate businesses and organizations is the first step.  Next, is our outright refusal to provide personal information in other situations.  One of the most common methods used by criminal organizations is through fraudulent e-mails.  We have personally received several e-mails from “banks”, asking for us to update our Account Information.  These are banks where we have never had an account.  Even though the e-mail appears to be from a specific bank, when we call that bank to confirm the legitimacy of the request, we’re told that the e-mail address we have on our screen, is not an address used by that bank.  Assuming the criminals are sending that same e-mail to thousands of individuals, it’s logical to assume many customers of that bank may unwittingly provide the requested information – and it will be going directly to the criminals.  Never provide information when it is requested in an e-mail or phone call – provide it only when you contact the other party by phone or e-mail after verifying you’re using the correct address or phone number.  Banks don’t request information updates via e-mails, phone calls or pop-up windows.

We have had e-mails claiming to be from FedEx and from Canada Post, simply asking us to click on a tracking number to arrange for the pickup of a parcel.  When we call those couriers, they tell us those e-mail addresses and tracking numbers are not theirs.  Many people could be victims of that scam because  they may assume it’s a legitimate shipment that they are expecting from someone.  In fact, by clicking on the “tracking number’ you have just given the criminals access to your system.  Never click on attachments, pop-ups or links unless you verify the legitimacy first.  The same is true for telephone requests.

We do have control over information we provide as a result of a request – just don’t provide it unless the request is legal, necessary  and legitimate.  Don’t let criminals use e-mails, pop-up windows or links to make you a victim of #IdentityTheft.

Mail Security

There are many ways criminals can gain access to our personal information and making us #IdentityTheft victims, often through sources over which we have no control.  One source in particular, has both controllable and uncontrollable features.  Mail!

Mail distribution provides criminals with several access points to our personal information.  The first, and most obvious, is mail theft.  Criminals have been known to pepper spray postal employees and steal letter box keys for the sole purpose of gaining access to a large amount of mail.   That isn’t within our control; however, some of what goes into the mail is within our control.  For example, if we order cheque blanks from our bank or the bank’s supplier, a criminal would love to find all those blanks in some stolen mail,  We suggest you have those orders sent to the bank for you to pick up later.  The bank is likely to have multiple orders in one shipment that would be easier to track. 

Another example is the mailing of payments to suppliers, utility companies and various other service providers.  One of our Associates has been involved with internet security since internet service began.  He tells us that as long as we access the websites properly to pay those bills, it’s much safer to pay online than sending payments through the mail.  (We will have a future posting to discuss the issue of cheque washing.)  The key is that you access the supplier’s website – never click on a pop-up window, link or advertisement.

Criminals look for any kind of personal information in your mail.  There are many examples that can readily be used by criminals – New licenses, credit card offers, new credit cards, credit card statements, property title documents, insurance documents, driver’s licenses and anything within the realm of criminal creativity!

Criminals have been known to break into super-mailboxes and they certainly patrol residential areas to steal mail from house mail boxes.  Never leave your mail in the mailbox over night and be sure to have someone else pick up your mail if you are going to be away  for any period of time.  Where we do have some control over our personal information, let’s do whatever we can to reduce our risk of being #IdentityThefy victims.

Our “Identity Theft Issue   “Control Data”, discussed the issue of limiting the amount of information we provide to those requesting it – another area where we have control over our personal information.

Please go to for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield. Contact us at

Identity Theft, Frauds and Scams

Identity Theft – Understanding Scope of the Problem
Our series of articles on Identity Theft, Frauds and Scams will cover a variety of issues around the topic – everything from the scope of the problem, where criminals get our information, how they use that information, how to reduce our risk of becoming a victim and the details around the growing number of frauds and scams. We do not profess to be experts on the topics of Identity Theft, Frauds or Scams – other than the criminals, the only experts are a limited number of law enforcement officers and security personnel who specialize in those activities. Based on the new tactics that criminals are continuously developing, even law enforcement and security are probably having some difficulty staying up to date.