At 1 a.m. on May 15, Abby Moss woke up after hearing her phone ding with a new email from the Canada Revenue Agency indicating her Canada Emergency Relief Benefit payment had been deposited.
She knew something was wrong because she never submitted an application for the government benefit program.
More than three months later, she still doesn't have answers other than her CRA account was hacked and money was deposited in a bank account in Quebec. She is now unable to access her CRA account, or collect CERB, which she is qualified to receive.
Moss said she "instantly burst into tears" when she learned what happened.
"I got afraid because I am thinking, 'OK, if they have my information to take money from the government, what other information do they have on me? What else do they know about me?'"
Others in same situation
Moss is one of hundreds of Canadians who've had their identities stolen and used to apply for government benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The acting chief information officer for the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat said Monday the attacks were done by hackers fraudulently obtaining usernames and passwords to accounts on other websites and taking advantage of the fact many people use the same passwords for different accounts.
Moss said that is not what happened in her case as she does not have the same password for other accounts.
The federal government announced Monday the cyberattacks have been brought under control, but Moss still has a lot of unanswered questions.
Moss said when she contacted CRA and Service Canada they told her to call an agency that handles fraudulent complaints.
Moss said she has been calling the company regularly but after three months has not had her situation resolved.
"Hours and hours of wait times on the phone to speak with to an agent and explain your entire situation each time and all they can tell you is, 'Wow.' Nobody can actually give you anything, it's just, 'Wow, this is interesting and you need to call back in a week.'"
Can't collect CERB
Moss, who is raising two young daughters, said she had been thinking about applying for the benefit before her information was hacked as she is not able to find employment during the pandemic but now she's unable to collect the government relief money.
She said CRA has told her that because someone has already made a claim with her name and social security number there is nothing they can do for her as they investigate.
CBC News has asked the CRA for comment on Moss's case, but in an emailed statement, the agency did not address her situation specifically and said only that it is prioritizing calls from victims of fraud and is answering calls as quickly as possible. The agency also says it will send individuals a letter explaining how to confirm their identity in order to protect and restore access to their CRA account.
The CRA said it hopes to have its online services for individuals up and running by mid-week.
Meanwhile, Moss's financial situation, combined with her stolen information, has made for some sleepless nights.
"It causes stress and anxiety and the unknown and you just want answers," she said.
"Someone should be able to tell me, 'OK, we have this fixed,' instead of, 'I don't know and I don't know what to do for you.'"