Skip to main content

CAFC Bulletin: Identity Theft vs Identity Fraud


Identity Theft refers to the collection or acquisition of someone else’s personal information to conduct other criminal activities. Identity Theft can occur through the telephone, email, regular mail or the internet.

Identity Fraud is the actual use of another person’s information, living or deceased, in connection with fraud. This includes impersonation and the misuse of debit or credit card data.

Fraudsters use a range of techniques to acquire a consumer’s identity. It can be as simple as obtaining personal information through a dumpster dive, direct call or through sophisticated means using technology such as phishing, skimming, malware, spyware and viruses.

While consumers may not suffer immediate financial losses, they can spend hours alerting financial institutions and the credit bureaus. In addition, they may have difficulty obtaining credit or re‐establishing a good credit rating in the future.

Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself

  • Be wary of unsolicited emails, phone calls or mail asking for personal or financial information.
  • Be aware of creditors or collection agency calls about an application or account you do not have.
  • Stay current. Check your bank and credit card statements monthly and report any suspicious activity. Report any missing mail or statements right away.
  • Beware of unsolicited emails or text messages stating you have a refund and asking to enter your personal or financial information to deposit the money.
  • Properly dispose all personal and financial documents (i.e. shredding).
  • Obtain a free credit report (available once a year) through the two credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.
  • Beware of unsolicited emails or text messages demanding payment.

If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, please contact the Canadian Anti‐Fraud Centre at 1‐888‐495‐8501 or report online at .

This document is the property of the CAFC. It is loaned to your agency/department in confidence and it is not to be reclassified, copied, reproduced, used or further disseminated, in whole or part, without the consent of the originator. It is not to be used in affidavits, court proceedings or subpoenas or for any other legal or judicial purposes. This caveat is an integral part of this document and must accompany any information extracted from it.