VANCOUVER -- It’s like an accident out of a blue. Through no fault of your own, you suddenly find you owe thousands of dollars – if not more.

That’s how cybersecurity expert Josh Paul described falling victim to identity theft.

“At the end of the day, you could be responsible for purchases you didn’t make,” said Paul, who is president of Neocode Software in Vancouver.

Lifelabs admitted Tuesday that hackers may have gained access to the personal information of millions of its customers, particularly in British Columbia and Ontario.

When crooks get ahold of your identity, address, birthdate and passwords, they can take out car loans, lines of credits and charge cards in your name.

They might even draw money from your account or get cash advances. They could take out a cellphone contract. The list goes on.

The more information they have on you, the easier it is for cyber thieves to do their dirty work.

“All of a sudden you’re having to prove to your bank that person spending the money, isn’t you," said Paul, who warned the process could take weeks or months.

He said there is little police can do because the software crooks use is expensive and highly sophisticated. It’s very difficult to trace and criminal organisations have far more money than Canada’s law enforcers.

“It’s completely off the scale," said Paul.

He figured people should be most concerned by the lack of response from businesses and all levels of government, because this has been going on for years and will likely happen again.

“It’s going to get bigger, because (LIfeLabs) paid the ransom,” he said. “They just gave these guys more money to develop better software.”

Anyone concerned they may have had their privacy breached can call the Lifelabs hotline at 1-888-918-0467.