Identity Problems


Intrinsic Identity is always secure. It can only relate to a single person so it cannot be lost, misplaced, stolen or misused.

Surrogate Identity, however, is always vulnerable. For the sake of convenience, public bodies and others “link” individuals to documents, digital records or even just numbers. Surrogate identities are unavoidably problem-prone. Many actions can sever or redirect a person’s “link” to their Surrogate identity, including:

1. Theft

2. Fraud

3. Error

4. Mishap




Identity data can be acquired or collated and, if done for a criminal purpose, such actions are referred to as "identity theft"

-Stealing (purses, wallets, cheque books etc)
-Mail theft (bank and credit card statements, credit offers, tax information)
-Dumpster diving (old credit cards, bills, "convenience" cheques, discarded hard drives)
-Phishing- email from a thief pretending to be from a legitimate business or financial institution seeking your personal information
-Research- finding personal information available online, in public records or government registers
-Employment scams- advertisements for non-existent jobs where the personal information of unsuspecting applicants is requested
-Shoulder surfing- viewing or eavesdropping on transactions made in public
-Computer identity theft- hacking or using a virus to obtain personal information from a computer
-Pretexting- obtaining personal information by false pretenses from companies, banks, government departments etc.


Assembling individual items of personal information from a variety of sources to compile a complete surrogate identity

Fraud is deception with intent to gain. Identity typically
involves the misuse of identity information to obtain assets,
benefits, entitlements
or a reputation that rightfully belongs to another person.

Using sufficient attributes of another to benefit from the victim's reputation or achievements, or to divert repercussions to the victim

Using a false identity to lure or to defraud a victim

Reputation Tarnishing
-Proffered identity (e.g. use of an innocent person's name upon arrest)
-Creating disrepute (e.g. offensive or scandalous web posts made under someone else's name)

-Pranks using a victim's name and address (e.g. to order unwanted home delivery)
-"Swatting" -reporting a fictitious emergency to 911 under the name of an innocent victim.

Using the identity of a deceased person.

Establishing a fictitious identity referable to no person whoever actually existed (known as a "synthetic identity").
Financial Crimes

Credit fraud
-Application fraud- applying for a loan or credit in the name of a victim who has good credit
-Account commandeering- taking over an existing account of a victim
-Credit and debit card fraud- usually involves purchasing goods or services using a victim's card information

Refund fraud
Involves a fraudster filing a tax return in a victim's name and directing the refund to a bank controlled by the fraudster

Health insurance fraud- Use by an uninsured of the Provincial Healthcare details of an insured victim.

Utility fraud- opening an account in a victim's name without their knowledge. The fraudster typically leaves the account unpaid and all collection notices discarded.

Mistakes happen. But when they involve identity they can have devastating consequences ranging from bankruptcy, torture or even death.
-Of persons- Canadians have suffered physical and psychological abuse after being misidentified by Canadian officials (e.g. Maher Arar, a Syrian Canadian who was tortured in Syria after being misidentified by the RCMP as a terrrorist)

-Of documents- Canadian officials often can't distinguish a genuine froma fake Canadian identification document (Suaad Hagi Mohamud, a Somali Canadian was imprisoned when an official deemed her genuine Canadian passport a fake)

-Of attributes- personal records can contain errors t hat have no valid connection to the subject individual. Medical records containing an incorrect diagnosis, or employment records containing an assessment relating to another person, or describing incorrect absences or violations, are examples.
Database inaccuracy
-Official databases often contain errors. Inaccurate credit reports are very common. Some database errors can be very significant and can even involve listing a living person as deceased, or an innocent person a being a convicted criminal. Other database inaccuracies can potentially be fatal, such as those in medical records with correct information relating to medications, allergies or diagnostic test results.
Simply having a similar name to another person can be problematic. It is not unusual for debt collectors to target the wrong person because of a similar name. People have even been deported from Canada because an unrelated person with a similar name has a criminal record.
Most people have at least one namesake (a different person with the same name). Professionals, job applicants and other can suffer for the actions of their namesake. If that person behaves badly, for example by posting a hat-filled rank online, it could be ascribed to the innocent namesake.

Accidents and events can occur that deprive a person of the ability to establish their own identity, or to keep their personal information secure.
Absence of ID Records
-Lost or missing - unable to be located.
-Abandoned- left behind in a war zone, contamination eveacuation area etc.
-Destroyed- by flood, fire, hurricane, earthquake, landslide, or shredded after the statutory retention period (usually seven years), or mutilated by the owner (refuges often fear being identified while escaping so they destroy their ID documents)
-Never created- birth not reported; born in an "ungoverned" location

Vulterability of ID Records
Identity details can be left insecure, or security measures can fail. Data breaches are common and can involve the personal information of millions or billions of people being left vulnerable to theft and fraud. Even something simple like losing a smart phone can leave volumes of personal information exposed and vulnerable to misuse.

Disconnection with ID Records
Chemotherapy, catastrophic injury, sex change, extreme weight gain/loss and many other events can result in physical appearance changing so much that a photo identification becomes unacceptable.

Whatever identity problem you are facing, Pappin Law can help. Contact us for a FREE consultation.