Canada: The Top Strategies For Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft And Fraud

Last Updated: March 9 2015
Article by Leigh Beijer

Picture this: Newly married Sarah goes to the bank with her husband to get a pre-approval for the purchase of their first home together. Sarah has always been financially responsible, she has no debt, she pays off all of her personal bills on time and only has one credit card in her name. What could possibly go wrong? The bank calls Sarah and her husband the next day and declines their approval, citing bad credit for Sarah. Confused by the turn of events, Sarah contacts a reputable credit report provider to request a copy of her credit report, only to discover a large number of credit cards in her name and a car loan for a car she has never driven. It's clear Sarah has become a victim of identity theft.

March is Fraud Prevention Month and unfortunately, the scenario above is not new or unusual. In 2014, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received almost 26,000 complaints with respect to identity theft or fraud, with estimated losses of over $10.6 Million and even those numbers aren't reflective of reality as the Anti-Fraud Centre estimates that these statistics only represent 5% of victims.

Identity theft and fraud, while oftentimes used interchangeably, are actually two separate crimes. Identity theft refers to the preparatory stage of acquiring and collecting someone else's personal information for criminal purposes, whereas identity fraud is the actual deceptive use of the identity information of another person in connection with various frauds. Oftentimes both of these activities happen without the victim's knowledge or without the thief's knowledge of the victim. Ironically, identity theft and fraud is commonly an anonymous crime.

Identity theft and fraud are an increasing problem in Canada and with the ongoing and ever popular use of the internet to process payments, record and store personal information and the technology wherewithal of thieves increasing, the ability to stop someone from stealing your identity is almost next to impossible. Almost but not completely.

There are many ways that you can decrease the risk of becoming a victim of these crimes and failing these prevention techniques, the best way to limit your losses is with timely detection.

Ways to Prevent

Decreasing the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft is a big business these days, with many companies offering fraud protections services for a fee. Prevention however, doesn't need to cost you anything as long as you are willing to be diligent, consistent and aware. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre offers these tips to preventing identity fraud or theft:

  • Identity theft can occur over the Internet or telephone, or via fax or regular mail. Therefore, be particularly wary of unsolicited e-mails, telephone calls or mail attempting to extract personal or financial information from you;
  • Ask yourself if you really need all of the identity documents you carry in your wallet or purse. Remove any you don't need and keep them in a secure place instead;
  • During transactions, it's safer to swipe your cards yourself than it is to allow a cashier to do it for you. If you must hand over your card, never lose sight of it;
  • Always shield your personalidentification number when using an ATM or PIN pad;
  • Memorize all personal identification numbers for payment cards and telephone calling cards. Never write them on the cards; Familiarize yourself with billing cycles for your credit and debit cards;
  • Trash bins are a goldmine for identity thieves. Make sure you shred personal and financial documents before putting them in the garbage and;
  • When you change your address, make sure you notify the post office and all relevant financial institutions (your bank and credit card companies.)

A word of warning as well, many people think that banks or credit card companies will cover you in the event that fraudulent transactions happen within your account. While for the most part this is true, be aware of activity that may impact this process. The fine print of your banking and credit card agreements will often limit reimbursement or refuse reimbursement entirely under certain circumstances, such as the use of third party smartphone apps that allow you to combine all of your finance activities through the use of one app. The use of these types of apps, such as the 'Mint' app, may exclude you from receiving reimbursement from your bank or credit card company.

Timely Detection

Because identity fraud is often not detected until the crime has been committed, timely monitoring of bank statements, credit card statements, loan statements and your personal credit report is key to detecting identity fraud. If you have the time, you can submit a request by mail, fax, telephone or in person and receive a free paper copy of your credit report. For a small fee, you can receive your credit report immediately from Equifax or TransUnion. Your free credit report is called a "credit file disclosure" by Equifax Canada and a "consumer disclosure" by TransUnion Canada. It does not include your credit score. Obtaining your credit score does require the payment of a fee.

Responding to Theft or Identity Fraud

If you think you have been a victim of identity theft or fraud, you must act immediately to limit your losses or to potentially recover any losses you may have incurred. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre provides a wealth of information with respect to how to report the incident, who to report the incident to and provides victims with tools to assist in reporting the incident to credit providers, financial institutions and any other relevant entities.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Leigh Beijer
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.