The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Learning the ABCs of identity theft 

The Daily Herald of Provo, Utah has a Q & A column. This week, it's about identity theft:

Learning the ABCs of identity theft :: The Daily Herald, Provo Utah Learning the ABCs of identity theft

"Q: Do all of the recent data thefts mean everyone affected will be a victim of identity theft? How can one protect oneself against identity theft if our data isn't safe? -- MT, Palo Alto, Calif.

A: The theft of data is in the news almost every day. It would seem that, based on the recent rash of data thefts, almost the entire country is now exposed to identity theft.


The root cause of the recent data thefts are companies and organizations -- banks, credit card processors, universities, motor vehicle departments and Web sites -- that maintain a great deal of sensitive personal information in their databases. Their databases are constantly hacked, and these companies lack the appropriate level of standards with respect to protecting data.

Your question is certainly timely and provides an opportunity to review the basics of identity theft.

As explained before, identity theft is a crime that occurs when a thief steals your personal information and then uses it to impersonate you or to commit fraud and theft in your name. Typically, the thief will need your Social Security number, your name, address and driver's license in order to "become" you. In certain cases, the thief may also need your credit card account numbers and other information contained in your credit report.


In this context, you need to understand the difference between identity theft and credit card fraud. When, for example, a security breach at CardSystems Solutions compromised 40 million credit cards, you likely became exposed to credit card fraud, not identity theft.

Credit card fraud, while annoying and troubling, does not expose you to the same effects as identity theft. Federal law limits your financial risk to $50...."

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