Calgary

Recent mail thefts spur identity fraud warning

The Parkdale Community Association is warning Calgarians to keep an eye on their mail — and be careful about what they discard in recycling bins.

Parkdale resident had mail stolen and then received a call from someone trying to access bank info

Staff Sgt. Corey Dayley says Calgarians need to be aware of personal information that may be on papers thrown in the garbage. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

The Parkdale Community Association is warning Calgarians to keep an eye on their mail — and be careful about what they discard in recycling bins.

Colin Brandt, association president, says at least two people in the community have had mail stolen in recent months, one of whom later received a call from someone attempting to access her banking info.

"We had a relatively elderly resident who noticed somebody was rummaging through her blue bin," he said. "She heard her mailbox rattling a few weeks later and somebody had made off with her mail."

Brandt says the woman then got a call from someone claiming to be a bank employee looking for information about her account.

"She had had a bunch of bank statements taken that basically were being used to try to commit identity theft," said Brandt.

The woman now has a postbox at the local post office to ensure the safety of her personal information.

The case has been reported to police who recommend people shred documents before disposing them.

Sign of the times

Brandt says he sees the increase in these kinds of crimes as a sign of the economic times in the city.

"It's been kind of part of an ongoing issue that we've had that's really happened since the economic downturn," he said. "So it's a lot of smash and grab, it's a lot of rooting through cars and we've had a lot of instances of people rooting through mailboxes."

Police say fraud in general has increased in the city.

Even though personal information collection and storage is becoming more and more electronic, people still have to be aware of what's on paper, Staff Sgt. Cory Dayley warned.

"We still have to watch our mail and be really sensitive about what data we put out there in regards to the written word or mail we think is now junk or garbage and how we cast that off," he said.

"Whether it's through a recycle bin, and even taking the extra step of having a shredder in our house."

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story had a headline that said there had been a “rise” in mail thefts in Calgary. In fact, police say there has been an increase in fraud in general.
    Jan 18, 2017 12:56 PM MT

With files from Allison Dempster