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Watch out for identity thieves, Barbadians told

Identity theft is big business around the world and Barbados has not escaped unscathed.

This warning from former acting director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Guyson Mayers, who has further cautioned that people were in the business of selling personal information every day.

Mayers made the comments during the third annual Barbados Investment & Financial Products showcase at the Central Bank yesterday as he responded to questions from the audience, following a presentation on the topic Anti-Money Laundering – What are the Signs?

He pointed out that the problem of identity theft was not limited to the African continent, noting that just recently people were charged in connection with similar fraudulent activities here.

Guyson Mayers

Guyson Mayers

“I sat on a panel and we submitted a report for the Electoral and Boundaries Commission about a month ago investigating a matter of that nature. A gentleman was found in that office with a large number of documents from the office . . .  That person had, in an attaché case, a number of forms for people who may or may not exist . . . That is one that was discovered and he was charged criminally,” he said.

However, he said many victims of identity theft in Barbados were not willing to go to court with evidence.

Warning Barbadians to be vigilant and careful with their personal information, the former Royal Barbados Police Force officer also revealed that, “about five years ago, wearing a different hat I came across a set of IDs for two Jamaicans who were in Barbados having Barbados ID cards.

“So how did they get them? I didn’t figure out how they got them. So it is not uncommon. It is not uncommon at all,” he stressed.

“The real objective is to get identity information from you . . . Your identity information is so important. [Some] people that you do business with everyday sell your identification for money to other business people in Barbados and if you are significant they will sell it outside of Barbados too,”
warned Mayers.

“You may wonder why you bought [a certain brand of] powder last week and all of a sudden [that company] is sending you advertisements on other things that they sell or other manufacturers of powder or sending you their brand of powder to purchase. How do you think they know you are interested in powder? The person you bought your powder from sold your information to them and it [could be] happening every day in Barbados. So your identify is important,” he added.

While he did not provide statistics on how widespread the issue was in Barbados, in response to queries about emails requesting personal information, Mayers said people were using individuals’ personal information to not only destroy their credit, but to make purchases “and do all sorts of things that you have no knowledge of”.

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