What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone takes your personal information without your knowledge or consent, generally for the purpose of committing a crime, such as fraud or theft.
Any information about a person that could be used to identify that person, such as:
- Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Driver's licence number
- Credit card number
- Bank account number and Personal Identification Number (PIN)
- Name, date of birth, address and telephone number
Your date of birth in itself is not personal information, since many people have the same date of birth. But combined with your name and address, for example, it turns into information that could allow a fraudster to impersonate you.
Information that identifies you as an employee of a company, such as your title, address and phone number, is not considered personal information within the meaning of the Act.
CAUTION: It is not a good idea to disclose any information, confidential or otherwise, concerning your family or colleagues.
What is your personal information used for?
In general, personal information allows organizations to identify you so that you are able to:
- Apply for loans or credit cards
- Open a bank account
- Obtain government documents such as a driver's licence or social insurance card
- Obtain a passport
- Rent an apartment
- Make purchases
- Apply for a credit card in your name but using their address, or simply transfer your existing account to their address
- Use your name to open a cell phone account or other amenities
- Create forged cheques using your name and bank account number
- Open a new bank account in your name and obtain cheques
- Apply for a loan in your name
- Obtain a driver's licence or other official documents with your name but using their photograph
- Use your name and SIN to receive government benefits
- Fill out a fraudulent income tax return with your information
- Get a job
- Rent an apartment
- Give your information if they are arrested by police so that you are prosecuted when they fail to appear in court
- Identity Theft - Questions and answers – Public Safety Canada
- Identity Theft: What is it and what you can do about it – Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
- Identity Theft – Consumer Measures Committee
- Other websites about identity theft