What is Identity Theft?
Before fraudsters can use your personal information, they have to get it! And that's exactly what identity theft is: “obtaining, possessing, or trafficking in personal information to commit a criminal act such as fraud”.
Most sought after personal information for identity thieves:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Social Insurance Number
- Credit or debit card number and PIN
- User names and passwords
- Passport number
Most common types of identity theft include:
- Skimming (credit and debit card scam).
- Using spyware to intercept passwords for online banking.
- Intercepting PINs entered at point-of-sale terminals.
- Getting banking information through phishing.
- Stealing mail or sifting through household waste.
IDENTITY THEFT IS A CRIME
In January 2010, three new offenses related to identity theft were added to the Criminal Code of Canada. This legislation was introduced to prevent identity theft before fraud occurs.
The following are now considered crimes punishable by five-year maximum prison sentences:
- Possessing, manufacturing, or trafficking, without lawful justification or excuse, another person's official identity documents (driver's licence, health insurance card, passport, etc.).
- Obtaining or possessing information about another person's identity with the intent to use the information in the commission of a crime.
- Transferring, selling, or sending information about another person's identity with the knowledge that the information will be used to commit a crime, or without considering the possible criminal uses of that information.
More often than not, victims of these types of crimes don't even know that their identities were compromised. And by the time they notice, months or even years after the crime has been committed, they have to invest a lot of time and money to try to repair their personal and financial reputations.
In order to avoid all of this it is important to learn how to manage and protect your identity on proactive basis.