Edmonton

Mail-forwarding scam on the rise, Edmonton victim urges vigilance

Complaints of mail-forwarding fraud in 2016 were more than seven times higher in Canada than the previous year.

'Every time something like this happens, I throw up my hands and say are you kidding me!'

2 step authentication for online banking has been recommended in the U.S. for 14 years. It's been in place in some European countries longer than that. Canada still does not require it. (iStock)

Complaints of mail-forwarding fraud in 2016 were more than seven times higher than the previous year, and an Edmonton man, who's no stranger to scams, was one of them.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 479 complaints of mail-forwarding fraud in 2016, a rise from 63 the year before.

This summer, Jay Bigam checked his Canada Post mailbox to find to his surprise a notification that he had forwarded his mail to another address. 

"At first, I was like, 'What does this mean?' " Bigam said. "Then I read it four more times and realized there was something not right."

Jay Bigam was the target of a mail-forwarding scam this past summer. (Portia Clark/CBC)

It was from someone else who was trying to get his mail. He immediately called Canada Post's fraud department.

"Every time something like this happens, I throw up my hands and say are you kidding me!"

Mail-forwarding fraud occurs when a fraudster reroutes a person's mail through Canada Post, either to a residence or a business address. All the information needed can easily be found online, the anti-fraud centre says.

"Once I got to the fraud department, they were great," said Bigam. "I just wish Canada Post would be a little more diligent about the initial address change. That should be pretty difficult, I think, and I don't know that it is."

However, a Canada Post spokesperson told CBC News mail-forwarding requests are not automatically approved and requests believed suspicious are followed up on.

Bigam said he doesn't check his super mailbox very often, but he's glad he took the notification seriously.

"You really do have to pay attention to what you're getting because sometimes it can be something important. If I was relying on pension cheques, CPP, or EI, it could have been really bad."

Bigam is no newcomer to fraud. In the past decade he was the target of two tax return frauds, and a few fraudulent credit card applications.

In fact, he now pays for a credit monitoring service to alert him whenever his identity is used.