How long can the effects of identity theft last?
It's difficult to predict how long the effects of identity theft may linger. That's because it depends on many factors, including the type of theft, whether the thief sold or passed your information on to other thieves, whether the thief is caught, and problems related to correcting your credit report. Victims of identity theft should monitor their credit reports and other financial records for several months after they discover the crime. Also, victims should review their credit reports once every three months in the first year of the theft, and once a year thereafter. Stay alert for other signs of identity theft (see “What are the signs of identity theft?”). Don’t delay in correcting your records and contacting all companies that opened fraudulent accounts. The longer the inaccurate information goes uncorrected, the longer it will take to resolve the problem.
Are there laws that protect me?
Although currently under legislative review, identity theft does not yet have a statutory definition, nor does the Criminal Code of Canada contain a specific identity theft offence. Canadian criminal law addresses impersonation, forgery and fraud. Consequently, the Criminal Code and other federal and provincial statutory provisions could be used to deal with the following conduct:
- Theft or armed robbery to obtain government issued identification documents;
- Counterfeiting of government, church and educational documents;
- Assuming identities (real or fictional) for financial gain;
- Negligently or deliberately assisting someone else in obtaining false identification; and
- Using false identification to commit or attempt terrorist activity.