Suspicious activity found on 48,000 CRA accounts after cyberattacks

OTTAWA _ The Treasury Board of Canada says it has uncovered suspicious activities on more than 48,000 Canada Revenue Agency accounts following cyberattacks in July and August.

The treasury says the previously-announced attacks targeted CRA accounts and GCKey, an online portal through which Canadians access employment insurance and immigration services.

Attackers used a method called credential stuffing, which takes advantage of people who reuse usernames and passwords across multiple platforms that may have been previously hacked.

The treasury says GCKey was not compromised, but it has revoked 9,300 credentials for its system and is contacting those users in hopes of blocking subsequent attacks.

Canadians who receive a revocation message can register for new credentials or make use of the SecureKey Concierge, which lets users sign in to 269 government services through partners, such as major banks.

The treasury says the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s investigation into the attacks is still ongoing and affected departments have been in contact with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to provide updates on what personal information has been compromised.

Air Canada first out the gate with new COVID-19 related insurance

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Thousands of CRA and government accounts disabled after cyberattack

Thousands of CRA and government accounts disabled after cyberattack

By Lee Berthiaume

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ Federal authorities were scrambling for answers over the weekend after revealing that hackers used thousands of stolen usernames and passwords to fraudulently obtain government services _ with the extent of the damage still unclear.

More than 9,000 hijacked accounts that Canadians use to apply for and access federal services have been cancelled after being compromised in what the Treasury Board of Canada described as  “credential stuffing” attacks.

“These attacks, which used passwords and usernames collected from previous hacks of accounts worldwide, took advantage of the fact that many people reuse passwords and usernames across multiple accounts,” the federal department said in a statement.

The hacked accounts were tied to GCKey, which is used by around 30 federal departments and allows Canadians to access various services such as employment insurance, veterans’ benefits and immigration applications.

One-third of those accounts successfully accessed services before all of the affected accounts were shut down, said the Treasury Board, which is responsible for managing the federal civil service as well as the public purse.

Officials are now trying to determine how many of those services were fraudulent.

The GCKey attack included thousands of Canada Revenue Agency accounts, through which Canadians can access their income-tax records and other personal information as well as apply for financial support related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 5,500 CRA accounts were targeted through the GCKey attack and an earlier “credential stuffing” scheme, the Treasury Board said.

“Access to all affected accounts has been disabled to maintain the safety and security of taxpayers’ information and the Agency is contacting all affected individuals and will work with them to restore access to their CRA MyAccount,” the department said.

Yet at least one victim says she has yet to hear anything from the government after someone hacked into her CRA account earlier this month and successfully applied for the $2,000-per-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit for COVID-19.

Leah Baverstock, a law clerk in Kitchener, Ont., says she first realized her account had been compromised and contacted the revenue agency herself when she received several emails from CRA on Aug. 7 saying she had successfully applied for the CERB.

“The lady I spoke to at CRA, she’s said: ‘This is a one-off,”’ said Baverstock, who has continued to work through the pandemic and did not apply for the support payments.

“And she told me a senior officer would be calling me within 24 hours because my account was completely locked down. And I still haven’t heard from anybody.”

Baverstock expressed frustration at the lack of contact, adding she still does not know how the hackers accessed her account. She has since contacted her bank and other financial institutions to stop the hackers from using her information to commit more fraud.

“I am quite concerned,” she said. “Somebody could be leaving under my name. Who knows. It’s scary. It’s really scary.”

The Treasury Board did not reveal how many of the CRA accounts were compromised or the cost of the suspected fraud, but said federal officials as well as the RCMP and federal privacy commissioner were conducting separate investigations.

And while the CRA says victims will get letters explaining how to confirm their identities to regain access to their accounts, it did not say how those receiving the Canada Child Benefit, CERB and other services will be affected by their accounts being suspended.

The government warned Canadians to use unique passwords for all online accounts and to monitor them for suspicious activity.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says more than 13,000 Canadians have been victims of fraud totalling $51 million this year. There have been 1,729 victims of COVID-19 fraud worth $5.55 million.

 

U.S. insurance adjusters in Calgary to respond to damaging hail storm

U.S. insurance adjusters in Calgary to respond to damaging hail storm

The excerpted article was written by 

A parking lot outside a hotel in northeast Calgary is full of American licence plates from states like Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Utah and South Carolina.

CRU Adjusters confirmed to Global News it has hired adjusters from across the continent following the hail storm that pounded the city earlier this month.

About 300 adjusters have come in from outside Alberta, including about 100 from the United States, for a mix of desk and fieldwork.

A CRU executive said it has strict COVID-19 protocols  — employees are to stay in their rooms as much as possible, wear masks when leaving, and practise social distancing at customers’ homes. Customers are contacted by phone and do not come out of the home for exterior inspections. When CRU adjusters have to go into the home, homeowners are advised to stay in different rooms during assessments.

Before being dispatched to Calgary, the adjusters had to answer health, travel and close contact questionnaires for CRU, and are advised to immediately self-isolate if they have any coronavirus-related symptoms and to contact Alberta Health.

The adjusters have been in Calgary for nearly two weeks and have more than six weeks work ahead of them. CRU said they are not planning on bringing any more adjusters to the province.

The adjuster company said they worked with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), who deemed these adjusters an essential service and provided them with necessary documentation.

And according to PHAC’s website, the documentation excuses the adjusters from having to self-isolate for 14 days.

Alberta Health said it was unaware of this group of adjusters coming to Calgary, and have begun working with PHAC to monitor the adjusters.

One hotel employee Global News spoke with said they ask out-of-province guests to respect social distancing, and even ask them to skip attending the complimentary breakfast.

In email from General Manager Ryan Ocbina said Element by Westin Calgary Airport follows all provincial and federal public health guidelines and follows a chain-wide commitment to cleanliness during the coronavirus pandemic. Ocbina’s hotels also provide complimentary masks and have removed all high-contact areas like self-serve coffee.

In an emailed statement, IBC confirmed it does help insurance companies “gain approval from relevant authorities to bring adjusters in from outside jurisdictions to assist consumers in response to catastrophic events, if required.

“Insurers are utilizing as many in-house and local claims representatives as possible to manage the high volume of claims from this event.”

But most insurance companies Global News spoke with confirmed they are using local adjusters.

“We can confirm that the vast majority of insurers have been using Canadian adjusters,” the ICB statement said.

“Some insurers utilize third-party independent catastrophic adjusting firms during catastrophic events to ensure clients get help as quickly as possible.”

Desjardins to give $100M back to its Canadian auto insurance clients

MONTREAL, June 29, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Today, Desjardins’s property & casualty insurance subsidiaries announced they would be issuing $100 million in premium refunds to their Canadian auto insurance clients. The refunds are for eligible personal and commercial insurance clients, who will receive a refund between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of the premium they pay for one month, depending on their market realities. The refund will apply to policies for eligible personal and commercial vehicles.

All told, 2.1 million clients will automatically receive the refund through their usual payment method, so they don’t need to do anything.

More people are working from home than ever before. Combined with the extended lockdown, this means that travel has been limited and car accident risks have been reduced. Fewer accidents mean fewer claims to pay out, so Desjardins has decided to reflect this reality by issuing this refund to its clients.

“Even though we’re beginning to reopen our provinces and cities, the pandemic will continue to affect our members and clients. We’re proud to say that we’re still here for them in these unprecedented times. Right now, we’re able to give $100 million back to our auto insurance clients. This is just one of the many ways that Desjardins has helped its members and clients deal with COVID-19 since March 16,” said Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group.

Today’s announcement follows an initial refund of close to $50 million to auto insurance clients, bringing the total close to $150 million.

About Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and the sixth largest cooperative financial group in the world, with assets of $326.9 billion. It has been rated one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers by Mediacorp. To meet the diverse needs of its members and clients, Desjardins offers a full range of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada. Ranked among the world’s strongest banks according to The Banker magazine, Desjardins has some of the highest capital ratios and credit ratings in the industry.

SOURCE Desjardins Group

https://www.desjardins.com/

COVID-19: Cross-border travellers angered they’re paying annual travel insurance

COVID-19: Cross-border travellers angered they’re paying annual travel insurance

The excerpted article was written by  

Some travellers are questioning why they are still paying for travel insurance when the Canada-U.S. border remains closed to all non-essential travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gail Bourne travels to the United States at least twice a year. The Vancouver resident says she bought an annual travel insurance policy with BCAA for $845.21 for coverage between Nov. 9, 2019 and Nov. 9, 2020. However, when the borders shut down this past March, her travel plans were put on hold.

“I just thought it was unfair that I’m paying for something I can’t do,” Bourne said.

Bourne has been a BCAA member for 51 years. She says she reached out to BCAA to cancel her insurance or at least extend her current policy but says she was initially denied.

“I felt slighted. I had been a faithful customer for all these years and they wouldn’t do anything for me,” she said.

Consumer Matters reached out to BCAA on Bourne’s behalf. BCAA told Global News under normal circumstances once a customer uses their annual policy to travel there is no refund, but also acknowledged these are not normal times and states it’s looking at these situations on a case-by-case basis.

Bourne says within days of Consumer Matters reaching out,  BCAA agreed to give her a partial refund of more than $400 with her policy still in effect until November 2020.

North Vancouver resident John Rowlands didn’t have the same success when it came to getting a refund for his wife’s travel insurance. She has  MEDOC travel insurance, an annual 17-day base travel plan with Johnson Insurance. Her premium is $913 with monthly deductions of $75.31 a month. The policy states it cannot be cancelled until the end of the policy year.

“What are we paying for? It’s supposed to be for travel insurance and yet it means nothing,” he said.

When contacted by Consumer Matters, Johnson Insurance stated:

“Our annual base plans have a fixed one-year term and are designed to cover multiple trips, allowing customers to take advantage of trip cancellation, trip interruption and medical coverage throughout the year. Clients with specific questions about their policy should contact us directly.”

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), which represents life and health insurance providers, says typically an annual travel plan covers an individual for any travel taken over 12 months. In most cases, a policyholder may cancel an annual plan as long as there has been no travel taken in that period.

However, once travel occurs, the plan can’t be cancelled because the plan works by spreading the insured’s risk over the term of the plan. Still, many insurers it says have offered to extend coverage on annual plans during the pandemic.

Once the border opens to non-essential travel, the CLHIA recommends the following for travel outside of Canada:

  • Check with insurer to see if your current workplace travel insurance, or the policy offered by the insurer includes treatment related to COVID-19 outside Canada
  • Know the entry requirements for the country (eg. 14-day quarantine, COVID-19 tests)
  • Ensure travel insurance coverage for entire duration of trip
  • Consider purchasing “cancel for any reason” trip cancellation insurance for maximum flexibility

Source: Global News

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