Identity Theft

“Identity theft” is broadly defined as the unauthorized collection, possession, transfer, replication or other manipulation of another person’s personal information for the purpose of committing fraud or other crimes that involve the use of a false identity. Aided by the increase in digitization and online use of information, identity theft is rapidly becoming a major worldwide problem for businesses, governments, and citizens.

An effective response to this burgeoning problem requires a multi-tiered approach: in addition to technological tools, smart business practices, and improved consumer awareness, government policy and legislative reform have key roles to play. CIPPIC is managing one of four research projects funded through the Ontario Research Network for Electronic Commerce (ORNEC) aand supported by contributions from the following private sector partners: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal, Toronto Dominion Bank, Communications and Information Technology Ontario (Member of the OCE) and Bell Canada. We are working with colleagues in academia, government and the private sector to identify and address legal and privacy issues arising in the context of initiatives to prevent and detect ID theft.

The CIPPIC ID Theft research project aims to develop well-informed and well-reasoned recommendations for law and policy reform designed to prevent, detect, and mitigate the effects of ID theft. The project also seeks to develop guidelines for e-commerce businesses and online consumers so as to encourage vigilant corporate and consumer behaviour that reduces the risk of ID theft. Project research and analysis includes:

  • Identifying techniques typically used by ID thieves, as well as corporate and government information management practices that facilitate ID theft;

  • Identifying recurrent problems faced by Canadian ID theft victims as they attempt to regain control over their personal information;

  • Comparing and evaluating different legislative and government policy approaches to preventing, detecting, and mitigating the effects of ID theft;

  • Assessing the privacy and ethical impacts of proposed technological, management, and market approaches to combating and mitigating the effects of ID theft.

Project Publications:

White Papers

Approaches to Security Breach Notification (January 2007) (Web Version, Print Version)

Working Papers

  1. Identity Theft: Introduction and Background (March 2007)

  2. Techniques of Identity Theft (March 2007)

  3. Legislative Approaches to Identity Theft (March 2007)

    1. Canadian Legislation Relevant to Identity Theft: An Annotated Review (March 2007)
    2. United States Legislation Relevant to Identity Theft: An Annotated Review (March 2007)
    3. Australian, French, and U.K. Legislation Relevant to Identity Theft: An Annotated Review (March 2007)
  4. Caselaw on Identity Theft (April 2007)

  5. Enforcement of Identity Theft Laws (July 2007)

  6. Policy Approaches to Identity Theft (May 2007)

  7. Identity Theft: Bibliography (April 2007)


CIPPIC, Brief to House of Commons Standing Comittee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-27 (An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Identity Theft and related mmisconduct) (Ottawa: Apr. 2008)

CIPPIC, Brief to House of Commons Standing Comittee on Access to Information and Ethics on the subject of Identity Theft (May 15, 2007)

Philippa Lawson, “Tackling ID Theft: Legal and Policy Approaches” (Toronto: CACR Conference, Nov.2006)



CIPPIC Identity Theft FAQs and Resources

McMaster University ID Theft Project webpage (Defining and Measuring ID Theft in Canada)

Canadian ID Theft Initiatives

On November 21, 2007, the federal government introduced legislation designed to combat identity theft by making illegal a variety of activities that identity thieves typically engage in. Under Bill C-27, new criminal offences would be created for the possession of identity information with intent to commit fraud, trafficking in identity information, fraudulently redirecting mail, and possessing instruments for forging or copying credit cards.

Proposed legislation: Bill C-27

Dept. of Justice News Release

Dept. of Justice Backgrounder

Minister's Speaking Notes

CIPPIC News Release

Privacy Commissioner of Canada News Release

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This page last updated: May 25, 2009