Protecting your privacy means protecting your personal information from misuse by others. While the IPC holds Ontario public sector institutions, children’s aid societies, and other child and family service providers accountable for the personal information in their care, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself, such as, minimizing the exposure of your personal information available to others, both online and off, and recognizing the signs of being a victim.
Identity theft refers to the collection or acquisition of someone else’s personal information to conduct criminal activities. Identity fraud is the actual use of another person’s information in connection with fraud. This includes impersonation and the misuse of debit or credit card information.
In addition to basic information like name, address and telephone number, identity thieves look for:
identity document information, such as birth certificates, passports, Social Insurance, driver’s licence, and health card numbers
financial information, such as bank account and credit card details
biographical information, such as birth dates and mothers’ maiden names
online account usernames and passwords, such as for email and social networking sites
This personal information enables an identity thief to commit various forms of fraud using your identity, such as:
access your bank accounts
apply for loans, credit cards and other goods and services
obtain new identity documents, such as passports
receive government benefits
hide their criminal activities
Fraud committed in your name can take months or years to correct. Meanwhile, the potential consequences can be serious: poor credit ratings; ruined reputations; lost jobs and other opportunities; services denied, and even loss of freedom to travel.
Identity theft and fraud are serious crimes that claim thousands of victims each year.
Credit Bureaus. Have your credit reports annotated or “frozen.”
Credit card companies. Cancel your existing credit cards and accounts and have a fraud alert placed on your accounts.
Your insurance provider, if you have identity theft insurance
Post office. If you suspect someone is diverting your mail through false change of address forms.
Your employer, particularly if you are paid via direct deposit.
Keep a log of all your contacts
Make copies of all documents.
Document all the steps you have taken and your expenses to clear your name and re-establish your credit.
In some cases, it may be advisable to seek the assistance of a lawyer.
For information held by Ontario public sector institutions such as provincial ministries and agencies, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities and health care providers, you can file a complaint or contact us.
For information held by the federal government or collected by private sector companies contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is the central agency in Canada that collects information and criminal intelligence on such matters as mass marketing fraud (i.e. telemarketing), Internet fraud and identity theft complaints.
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Identity Theft Resources