Identity Theft? Identity Fraud? Busted either way…

The criminal code has recently been revised to include new identity-related offences — this courtesy of the most excellent Slaw.ca.

What first caught my eye were two solid definitions:

  • identity theft (new Code section 402.2(1)): knowingly obtaining or possessing “another person’s identity information in circumstances giving rise to a reasonable inference that the information is intended to be used to commit an indictable offence . . .”
  • identity fraud (revised Code section 403) : fraudulently personating another person for various improper purposes.
  • I like the clear distinction offered by these.  Theft is possession of another person’s identity information, fraud is doing bad things with that identity information.

    Perhaps these definitions will assist the press to more carefully describe crimes related to identity; I notice that they tend to call everything identity theft.

    I checked with the American author and thinker Jim Harper on these definitions, as the definitions in his book, Identity Crisis, are a bit different.  Jim was kind enough to respond:

    It’s probably a compromise with the popularity of the phrase “identity theft” that it appears at all, but I think it’s very helpful to refer to these crimes accurately, and these definitions do that well. Ordinary people will look at the law and understand better what it means, what it’s supposed to do, and what they can do to protect themselves.

    Also of interest are the examples of identity information that section 402.1 provides:

    • name
    • address
    • date of birth
    • written, electronic or digital signature
    • SIN, health insurance or driver’s license number
    • credit or debit card number
    • number of an account at a financial institution
    • passport number
    • user code
    • password
    • fingerprint or voice print
    • retina or iris image
    • DNA profile

    The new legislation recognizes that some of these items on their own represent uniquely identifying information (e.g. SIN) while others (e.g. address) would need to be combined with other attributes to arrive at a unique person.

    There’s more — if you are interested, check out the legislative summary.

    Mike

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