A victim of identity theft is stepping forward, hoping that her story may help others.
“Frauds might be common in times of crisis as some people feel uncertain and are looking for easy answers. It’s important for me to speak out because I believe things need to change and more people need to learn how to protect themselves against scammers,” said Emily Xu, who has gone public about what she has been through during the past two years.
In June 2018, Xu received a phone call from ICBC saying that someone had tried to change her home address on her auto insurance plan. Initially, she and the representative thought it was a system error.
But things quickly escalated, and Xu began receiving multiple calls from different organizations chasing her for money she didn’t owe.
“The Canadia Revenue Agency (CRA) asked me to provide the required documents because they thought my business was trying to evade the provincial sales tax. The court also asked me to pay back a loan I had never taken out,” said Xu.
Xu even found her contact information taken by a local third-party company and posted on its website without her consent.
“The most disturbing thing about being an identity theft victim is that thieves can use your information everywhere, and it can ruin your reputation overnight,” said Xu, adding that it has been almost two years since her ordeal, but it feels like it just happened yesterday.
However, Xu considers herself lucky since she received help from the police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre after she filed a report. Meanwhile, her family members have been supporting her throughout.
“I haven’t received any phone calls to ask me to pay the debt, so far – life seems to have returned to normal.”
Xu suggests people be extra cautious with their personal information going forward.
“It’s always a good habit to shred personal documents before disposing of them and always check your credit rating to monitor for illegal activities. And remember to safeguard your personal information no matter whether it’s on paper or online.”
In addition, Xu encourages others to share their experience if they have been the victim of fraud or a scam.
“Sometimes, real-life examples are more powerful than online tips. Sharing those experiences can make our community a more excellent place for all of us,” said Xu.