Identity theft: many Canadian adults still in the dark about the serious repercussions this phenomenon could have on their lives

    - 45% of Canadian adults didn't know if they've been a victim of identity
      theft, their future credit card purchases could be declined;
    - 74% have never asked for a report from a credit reporting agency to
      confirm the accuracy of their credit record;
    - Restoring an identity can be very stressful and often involves many
      administrative and legal steps.

    MONTREAL, March 18 /CNW Telbec/ - With March being the Fraud Prevention
Month in Canada, Sigma Assistel releases results of its national survey on
Identity Theft. According to this survey, many Canadian adults still don't
really understand to what extent identity theft impacts their lives and the
lives of their loved ones. If you are a victim of identity theft, your credit
record can be severely compromised. Restoring your identity can be a legal and
administrative nightmare. In other words, you're in for a good dose of stress!

    According to the survey:

    - 37% of respondents were not aware that a fraudster could buy something
      like a household appliance on credit from a major retailer using the
      victim's name.
    - Just under half of all Canadian adults (45%) didn't know that if their
      identity is stolen, an institution or retail store could decline their
      future purchases on credit.
    - One-quarter of Canadian adults (25%) were unaware that identity theft
      could damage their personal credit score for months or even years.
    - 57% of Canadian adults had no idea that they could have to pay a
      traffic ticket without ever having committed a violation.

    According to Pierre Julien, Director of Business Development and
Marketing: "These survey results are proof that Canadians need proactive and
reactive help with respect to identity theft. Restoring your identity is no
easy task. You'll likely need to contact a number of organizations including
banks, credit card issuers, government services, credit reporting agencies,
the police, etc. And if you don't go about these steps properly or if you
neglect to inform certain organizations, you and your family will be in for a
long haul in the months and years ahead. And that could mean a lot of stress
for everyone involved."

    The best strategy is prevention

    As is the case for any type of fraud, prevention is still the best
strategy. When it comes to prevention, the survey showed that Canadian adults
have taken some commendable steps in the right direction:

    - More than 8 out of 10 Canadian adults (83%) always, or most of the
      time, check to make sure all transactions listed on each one of their
      credit card statements are accurate.
    - 9 out of 10 Canadian adults (90%) always, or most of the time, check to
      make sure all transactions on their bank statements are accurate.
    - 88% of Canadian adults rarely or never dispose of their receipts or
      bank statements without first ripping them up or shredding them.
    - Virtually all Canadian adults (95%) never clean out their wallets in
      public places (e.g., when they are waiting in a line up or dining at a
      restaurant, etc.).

    The survey also looked at what you can do on a daily basis to protect
yourself against identity theft. We learned that:

    - Only one out of 4 Canadian adults (26%) has requested a report from a
      credit reporting agency to check the accuracy of his/her credit record.
    - Just over one out of 5 Canadian adults (21%) keeps valid credit cards
      that are no longer used.
    - Nearly half of all Canadian adults (52%) always carry their social
      insurance card or number in their wallet.

    According to Louise Des Ormeaux, General Manager of Sigma Assistel, one
way to minimize the risk of identity theft is to memorize your social
insurance number and keep your card in a safe place, such as a safety deposit
box at a financial institution. Data from the 2006 survey on this subject
showed that 30% of Canadian adults have rented a safety deposit box from their
financial institution. "This very basic but effective step could save you a
lot of headaches in the end," explained Ms. Des Ormeaux.
    Finally, according to the survey, one out of 10 Canadian adults (10%) has
already been a victim of identity theft, and 7 out of 10 Canadian adults (69%)
say they are very or somewhat concerned about identity theft, whereas in the
2006 survey it was one out of 15 Canadian adults (7%) and six out of
10 Canadian adults (63%) respectively.

    About the survey

    This survey was conducted by SOM Survey, Opinion, Polls and Marketing on
behalf of Sigma Assistel between January 9 and 29, 2008. In total,
1,002 interviews were conducted with a representative sample of Canadian
adults. The sampling plan provides proportional estimates with a maximum
margin of error of plus or minus 3,2% at a 95% confidence level (19 times out
of 20). The data was statistically weighted to accurately reflect the
composition of Canadian adults by region, gender and age based on 2001 Census

    About Sigma Assistel

    Sigma Assistel, a Canadian leader in telephone assistance and a
subsidiary of Desjardins Financial Security, serves more than 5 million
Canadians today. In the past few years, Sigma Assistel has recorded growth
rates ranging between 10% and 20%. The company strives to offer
cost-competitive solutions to meet the needs of groups, businesses, and
organizations concerned about the well-being of their employees, members, and
clients. Sigma Assistel is committed to providing appropriate, high-quality
assistance services - anytime and anywhere, no matter what the nature of the
request. These services, which are available 24/7, include Health Assistance,
Legal Assistance, Home Assistance, Travel Assistance, Roadside Assistance, as
well as ID Theft and Restoration Assistance and Employee Assistance
Programs (EAP). For more information about Sigma Assistel, visit the company's
website at

For further information:

For further information: Robert Merrick, Hill and Knowlton, (416)
413-4602; Quebec media: Frédéric Bérard, HKDP Communications and Public
Affairs, (514) 395-0375, ext. 230; Source: Sigma Assistel

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