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.

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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, November 14, 2005

Taking a closer look at "identity theft" statistics 

The Associated Press is distributing an article by Brian Bergstein that takes a closer look at the oft' cited statistics related to "identity theft." He, and the folks he has interviewed, suggest that the statistics of identity theft, particularly those based on public surveys, are probably overstating the problem. Probably a big part of the difficulty of coming up with meaningful statistics is lack of agreement on what is identity theft.

We need to refine our vocabulary so that we are sure of what we are discussing. At least to me, "identity theft" is not simple cheque forgery or using a stolen credit card. That's basic fraud. Identity theft is not the ilicit obtaining of personal information, by hacking, dumpster diving or otherwise. That might be theft of identifying information, but nobody's identity is stolen. To me, identity theft is the impersonation of an individual, without their knowledge, to obtain credit facilities or other such services. Perhaps a better term would be "identity hijacking", since the criminal is taking over that person's identity for his or her own purposes. Fraudulent charges and cheque forgery may be part of it, but it also includes obtaining new identity documents, new loans, mortgages and the like.

"Identity-related fraud" is the term I'd use for the larger basket of crimes that the media often call identity theft.

In any event, take a look at the informative AP article at the Chicago Tribune site: Chicago Tribune | Identity theft fears may be overblown.

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