Can The Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) ask for your passwords?

Article by Cyndee Todgham Cherniak
LexSage

The answer is, “Yes”, the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) can ask for your passwords.  Not only can the CBSA ask for your passwords, the CBSA does ask for passwords.  Not only does the CBSA ask for passwords, the CBSA will unlock your cell phones, mobile phones , smart phones, computers, etc and look at/review your emails, your photographs, your videos, your text messages, etc.  If you do not provide your passwords, you could be arrested and charged and end up with a criminal record. Just ask Mr. Alain Philippon.

News broke today (August 16, 2016) that Mr. Philippon has pleaded guilty (on the eve of trial) to not providing his cell phone password to the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”). Alain Philippon was arrested by the CBSA in March 2015 and charged pursuant to section 153.1 of the Customs Act (Canada) for failing to provide passwords.  Section 153.1 of the Customs Act provides that:

“No person shall, physically or otherwise, do or attempt to do any of the following:
(a) interfere with or molest an officer doing anything that the officer is authorized to do under this Act; or
(b) hinder or prevent an officer from doing anything that the officer is authorized to do under this Act.”

A CBSA officer is authorized under section 99 of the Customs Act to examine goods in a traveler’s possession.  The term “goods” is defined in the Customs Act to include “any document in any form”.  Electronic communications, data and documents would satisfy the definition of “goods”.

According to the Agreed Statement of Facts, Mr. Philippon had $5000 and two PDAs in his possession.  He was sent to secondary examination where swabs of his bags registered a reading for traces of cocaine.  Mr. Philippon refused to provide the passwords to his PDAs.  It is not known whether Mr. Philippon ever did provide those passwords or if he did get his PDAs back from the CBSA.

As a result of the plea deal (to plead guilty and pay a fine of $500), we will never know whether the Nova Scotia Provincial Court has difficulties with the CBSA arresting a person for not providing a password.  This was a smart decision by Philippon who could have been fined up to $25,000 and/or imprisoned for up to one year. The moral of this story is that the CBSA can ask for your passwords and you may end up with a criminal record if you do not provide the passwords.

Customs lawyers have been waiting to learn what a court would say about what first appeared to be an extreme position taken by the CBSA.  Travelers are regularly requested by the CBSA to provide passwords to cell phones, PDAs, computers, etc.  Most travelers comply for fear of the ramifications (also, most travelers have nothing to hide, except embarrassing photos and videos).

Under Canada’s domestic laws, the police do not have an absolute right to ask for passwords.  Individuals in Canada have privacy rights and charter rights.  The rules are very different at the border.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

Back-to-School on a Budget

Back-to-School on a Budget

CNW – August 29, 2016 – The euphoria of back-to-school shopping has begun, and many Albertans will spend thousands of dollars and a countless amount of time in shopping malls across the province. With creative television commercials and many other diverse marketing tactics, big-box retailers have refined their arts in making sure every message captures the attention of consumers just like the holiday shopping season.

According to retailmenot.ca, Canadian parents will spend approximately $472 on their children for 2016 back-to-school season. With the state of Alberta’s economy and the uncertainty, Money Mentors advises Albertans to be prudent with their finances and stick to the budget when shopping for back-to-school. To avoid overspending and not put a dent in their finances, here are some ways students and parents can curtail their spending:

  1. Check Current Inventory — As simple as this seems, there may be a surprising number of supplies already in your home from last year’s purchases. Your child may have also brought home unused school supplies from the previous school year. Make sure you check your closets and drawers for these supplies first.
  2. Create a budget — Creating and sticking to a budget based on your current financial position and back-to-school needs will help you to remain in control of your overall finances. When creating your budget you need to consider your income, monthly financial responsibilities, savings, emergency funds and other incidental payments. Heading out shopping with a realistic budget will limit you from overspending when back-to-school shopping.
  3. Only buy needs — You do not need the coolest or fastest laptop if you can’t afford it. At Money Mentors, we believe that the key to controlling spending and being in charge of your hard-earned money is about deciding on what to spend and not to spend.
  4. Don’t pay full price — Shopping around gives the best bang for your buck and there are countless retailers offering great discounts. Compare the best deals in flyers, in-store discounts, and online. Keep in mind that you do not have to buy everything new. Used textbooks, resources from your local library, clothing from consignment stores and items from buy and sell websites such as Kijiji.ca are often as good as new.
  5. Use cash — Pay with cash when shopping in stores and stay away from credit cards if possible. Generally speaking, cash limits you from being talked into buying the next level up item or adding features you do not need. Cash can limit your ability to overshop, and allows you to buy what you have only budgeted for. Additionally, using cash constantly prompts you about your spending and also protects you from impulse buying while shopping.
  6. Buy in bulk with a friend — Per item cost is often much cheaper at warehouse stores such as Costco; however, you will often end up with more than you need and can quickly overspend. By teaming up with one or more friends to purchase necessary items together, you can take advantage of warehouse prices without breaking your budget.

At Money Mentors, we counsel parents and students that they do not need the coolest gadgets or newest designer clothes to be a successful in school. What they need is a realistic budget and discipline, which will lead to wise financial decisions. Parents also have an opportunity to teach their children wise spending habits by adhering to these guidelines.

About Money Mentors
Money Mentors is the only Alberta-based, not-for-profit credit counselling agency. Through a number of services, we help families and individuals recover from financial crisis and move forward. From credit counselling and money coaching to retirement planning and community financial literacy, we are contributing to a healthier financial future for the entire province.

FSCO: Public Alert – Home Phone Mega Sweepstakes Raffle

CNW – Aug. 30, 2016 – The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) is warning consumers about a mail scam conducted by an unlicensed company, Prudential Financial Clearing Services.

This company has issued notices advising recipients that they are among the winners of a U.S. Telecommunication Lottery Sweepstakes Draw or Home Phone Mega Raffle.

The company and others previously identified as operating the same scam claim to be working on behalf of the Multi-State Lottery/Gaming Association to find winners that have not claimed their winnings and to help them navigate the laws and protocols mandated by federal and state regulations on sweepstakes winnings.

The company sends the recipient a cheque – supposedly to help pay taxes, insurance, handling and shipping fees – and urges the recipient to contact the claims representative listed on the document to activate the cheque and start the claims process.

The office addresses provided on the notices are often false locations and advertise themselves as the Division of Unclaimed Funds. Prudential Financial Clearing Services is not affiliated or associated with The Prudential Insurance Company of America, or any of its associated entities which are licenced with FSCO.

This type of scam is commonly known as an advance fee fraud.

Consumers should exercise caution if they receive unsolicited correspondence advising of lottery, sweepstakes, or raffle winnings, and are encouraged to forward copies of the materials received to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

It should be noted that although these companies appear legitimate and may have similar names to registered companies, they are not registered or affiliated with FSCO or the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario (RIBO).

FSCO’s website contains a list of all insurance companies and agents licensed to do business in Ontario. RIBO’s website contains a list of all brokers licensed to do business in Ontario.

Additional Resources
What to Do If You Think You Are a Victim of a Scam or Fraud

SOURCE Financial Services Commission of Ontario

‘The overall arrears rate remains low’

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Postal worker overtime ban to begin in Alberta and in the Northwest Territories

OTTAWA, Aug. 28, 2016 /CNW/ – Job action in the form of a refusal of overtime will start in the province of Alberta and in the Northwest Territories on Monday morning if no settlement is reached, according to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. However, the Union wants people to know they’ll still be getting their mail.

“Our action will cause little to no disruption for the public. We’ll still be delivering mail every day,” explained Mike Palecek, national president of the CUPW.

“We simply want to draw attention to our negotiation issues by asking our full-time members across the country to work only their scheduled hours. Part-time members can still extend to eight hours but will not accept overtime.”

Overtime has been a major issue for the Union, which has been demanding that Canada Post staff its workforce properly and build routes that match scheduled hours, instead of overburdening workers and making them stay on the job longer.  Postal workers can be forced back and severely disciplined for refusing overtime.

The Union says Canada Post should be creating more jobs instead of relying on so much overtime.

“Nobody should be forced to stay at work once they’ve done their hours. We all deserve to see our families and have lives outside our workplaces,” said Palecek.

The overtime ban will rotate from province to province, one day at a time.

“We hope our action will put some pressure on Canada Post to negotiate and to realize that pushing us around isn’t going to work,” said Palecek.

In response to the minimal rotating job action, Canada Post has said it will cut off maternity and adoption leave as well as insurance and other benefits, and cancel the workers’ vacations.

 

SOURCE Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Remember, legitimate telemarketers have nothing to hide

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