TOUGHER LAWS TARGETING IDENTITY THEFT COME INTO FORCE

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OTTAWA, January 8, 2010 — The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today welcomed the coming into force of Bill S-4. This legislation will provide police and justice officials with important new tools in the fight against identity theft, a fast-growing crime throughout North America.

"Our Government believes Canadians are entitled to have their identities and other valuable information protected to the highest degree possible," said Minister Nicholson. "Beginning today, they will have greater protection against identity theft and police will be better equipped to stop these crimes before they are committed."

The act creates three new "core" Criminal Code offences targeting the early stages of identity-related crime, all subject to 5-year maximum prison sentences:

  • Obtaining and possessing identity information with the intent to use the information deceptively, dishonestly, or fraudulently in the commission of a crime;
  • Trafficking in identity information, an offence that targets those who transfer or sell information to another person with knowledge of, or recklessness as to, the possible criminal use of the information; and,
  • Unlawfully possessing or trafficking in government-issued identity documents that contain information of another person.

A new power also permits the courts to order, as part of a sentence, that an offender be required to pay restitution to a victim of identity theft or identity fraud for costs associated with their efforts to rehabilitate their identity (e.g., the cost of replacement cards, documents and correcting their credit history). This provision complements existing provisions which permit restitution to be ordered for actual economic or other property losses.

Backgrounder: Identity Theft

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