Rights & Money

Alert: CERB Identify Fraud

Thieves are stealing payments meant for others

 By Caitlin Finlay


Over the past few months, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has received hundreds of reports from victims of identity theft regarding applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

CERB is a taxable government benefit for those who find themselves unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Canadians are relying on these CERB cheques to pay for necessities while unable to work. There appear to be two situations for those who have been victims of identify theft regarding CERB applications.

In the first situation, they were signed up for CERB without their knowledge—despite their not being eligible to receive the benefits.

In the second situation, those currently unable to work signed up for the benefits, but their banking information was changed, so that someone else received CERB payments meant for them. These victims are then left without CERB payments until an identity fraud investigation is completed, which can be a slow process. The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) spoke with CBC News and stated that the identity theft reports are being prioritized to ensure the victims may receive their payments as soon as possible. Most of the identity theft reports have come from Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia.

Regardless of province, it’s important to be vigilant and to protect your personal information to avoid identity theft. If you receive a bank card in the mail for which you did not apply, contact your bank to ensure it is not connected to a fraudulent account. If you haven’t applied for CERB but are receiving cheques, or if you did apply but aren’t receiving cheques, check your My Service Canada account from the Canada Revenue Agency to see if you have been the victim of identity theft. If you discover that you are a victim of identity fraud, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, your bank, and your local police.

Photo: iStock/Andranik Hakobyan.