Canadian Identity Theft Support Centre: A Pioneer in its Field

In late March 2012, the first identity theft organization opened in Vancouver, Canada. Known as the Canadian Identity Theft Support Center, it is Canada’s first support center that provides resources for victims of identity theft.

Kevin Scott, president of the Canadian Identity Theft Prevention Association, says, “The issue of identity theft is one of the fastest growing issues in Canada and victims across the country have nowhere to go once they become a victim. They are put out into the internet and into phone trees of different companies trying to figure out what to do. We assist individuals from start to end on how to regain control of their identity.”

About the Canadian Identity Theft Support Center

The Support Center is a charitable organization which is mainly funded by the federal Justice Department. The Center is actually modeled on a similar US organization, based out of San Diego, California. The Center runs a toll-free number, which offers free, expert advice to Canadians who have become victims of identity theft. It also provides online resources for victims dealing with the repercussions of identity theft, which can include credit and debit card fraud to complete takeovers of lives.

The Support Center is staffed by skilled Case Advisors, which are well-versed in the issues surrounding identity theft and are able to assist victims through reclaiming their identity. The Center is also involved with research, statistical analysis and education in all aspects of identity theft-related crimes in Canada. It is currently developing an online library which will contain practical resources for the public, and current studies on identity crime in Canada.

A very real threat…

“What’s easier and what’s safer – sitting in a basement somewhere, with a computer, stealing somebody’s identity and all the funds out of their bank account or walking in with a  gun into a bank?” asks Kevin Scott,. “This is obviously where a lot of criminals are migrating right now.”

According to studies, identity theft is the fastest growing and most serious non-violent crime in North America.  In 2008 alone, identity theft incurred costs of $7.2 billion in Canada. That same year, approximately 2.25 million people (9.1% of the population) were affected by identity theft or fraud. Finally, 75% of Canadians responded that they are concerned about becoming victims of identity theft or related fraud.

Perpetrators of identity theft-related crimes may range from petty criminals to international organized crime syndicates, or even terrorist organizations trying to elude watch lists and stay a step ahead of law enforcement bodies.

The result of identity theft can be devastating for many victims. It can affect personal finances, credit ratings, criminal records and more. Unfortunately, many victims are left without adequate or appropriate institutional support. Most must navigate the labyrinth of redress options alone.

Identity theft also impacts organizations and the private sector. It can seriously affect customer and client trust, thus increasing corporate liability, ruining reputations and drastically affecting the bottom line.

Being there for the victims of identity theft

According to Lindsay Lee, Identity Theft Support Center director, “People want – their instinct a lot of the time – is they want the person to be caught. Unfortunately, that probably isn’t something that’s probably going to happen right now in Canada. That’s not really out there for people, it’s too difficult to track.

“So when people call, this is often what they have on their mind is ‘How can I get this guy?’ And that’s something you have to tell people – that’s not going to happen. You have to focus on yourself. You have to focus on getting your own life back.”

The Support Center strives to fill a statistical gap. According to the last national survey on identity theft in Canada, conducted in February 2008, about 1.7 million Canadians had experienced identity theft ranging from credit and debit card fraud to impersonation, which was then used to rent apartments or avoid criminal records. However, the reality of identity theft crimes has changed drastically since then, and those involved with the Center hope that a new study will be completed soon.

Scoot described a real need for increased vigilance by both public bodies and private organizations in protecting Canadians’ personal information. He believes the balance of maintaining privacy rests on a “three-legged stool,” where each leg represents the responsibilities of government, business and individuals.


This article takes a look at the climate of identity theft-related crimes in Canada, a type of crime which is quickly growing and costing Canadians billions of dollars each year. The Canadian Identity Theft Support Center recently opened in March 2012 and hopes to assist victims of identity theft in navigating systems of redress and reclaiming their identity. The Centre was based on a similar organization located in San Diego, California, and currently offers one-to-one assistance through their toll-free number, as well as online toolkits, prevention guides and other resources.

CIPP Exam Preparation

In preparation for the Certified Information Privacy Professional/Canada (CIPP/C) exam,  a privacy professional should be comfortable with topics related to this post, including:

  • Enforcement agencies and powers (I.A.c.)
  • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) (II.A.a.)
  • Privacy incidents (II.B.g.)
  • Compliance trends and issues (II.B.h.)

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