If you are a victim of identity theft, fraud, error or mishap, there are a number of resources available to help you restore your identity and prevent future problems. These include:
1. Law Enforcement
If theft or fraud was involved, contact your local police department. A copy of the police report, or at a minimum the police report number, will often be required in order to resolve problems stemming from the crime. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has prepared an ‘Identity Theft and Identity Fraud Victim Assistance Guide’ which is available here
2. Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
If you are the victim of identity theft or fraud involving email or the internet, please report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. Alternatively, you can use their Fraud Reporting System on-line. While the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is not equipped to help you personally, your experiences will add to their database of identity theft and fraud which helps law enforcement agencies combat such crimes nationwide.
3. Credit Bureaus
If your identity problem caused, or has the potential to cause damage to your financial standing, you should contact both of Canada’s credit bureaus.
TransUnion Canada also has a Fraud Victim Assistance Department which can be reached at 1-800-663-9980.
Equifax is notoriously slow and inefficient, and may not even acknowledge your correspondence.
Discuss with the Credit Bureaus whether you should have a Fraud Warning placed on your credit file.
The process of identity restoration is frustrating and can be overwhelming. Victims often reach an impasse when dealing with bureaucrats, financial institutions, creditors and others.
The restoration process can also be intensely unfair. Precedent from the British Columbia Court of Appeal (United States of America v. Wong, 1995 CanLII 8935 (BC CA)) holds that the standard of proof for determining an identity is merely a “balance of probabilities”. Yet the standard required to prove one’s own identity is far higher – “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
In other words, “close enough is good enough” for identity fraudsters, but it’s not good enough for victims. The end result… the victim is often treated far worse than the criminal who stole their identity. A clear double standard in the common law.
Moreover, many officials can’t even tell the difference between official Canadian identification and a forgery, making proof of one’s identity potentially impossible. Suaad Hagi Mohamud, a Somali Canadian was imprisoned when a Canadian consular official deemed her genuine Canadian passport a fake – even though she also produced her Canadian driver’s licence and the High Commission had access to her fingerprints.
Unfortunately, the cards are stacked against the victim. But take heart… the law IS on your side and Pappin Law is always available to help enforce those laws, which include:
Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms – which affords citizens a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to public bodies.
The Criminal Code of Canada which not only criminalizes many acts related to identity theft and fraud, but also allows courts to order offenders to pay restitution to their victims.
The federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (‘PIPEDA’) – which provides parameters for collection, use and disclosure of personal information by federal public bodies and federally-regulated businesses (such as banks, airlines, phone and broadcasting companies), as well as private-sector organizations when personal information they use crosses provincial or national borders.
The federal Privacy Act – which governs the right of individuals to access and correct personal information held by the Government of Canada.
BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act – which governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by provincial public bodies.
BC’s Personal Information Protection Act – which defines the parameters of an “organization’s” permissible access to, and use of personal information.
BC’s Privacy Act – which makes it a tort (civil wrong) for one individual to violate the privacy of another individual, including by eavesdropping, surveillance and virtually any method of unauthorized collection of personal information.
BC’s E-Health (Personal Health Information Access and Protection of Privacy) Act – which governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information.
BC’s Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act – which regulates credit reporting agencies and provides a mechanism for correcting errors in a credit report.
Whatever challenge you are facing with your identity, we can help. Call Pappin Law to set things right with your identity efficiently and completely.