What personal information is safeguarded under privacy laws and why it matters to you

3 minute read
Protecting your sensitive information

For Privacy Week, we’re looking at your personal and financial information and privacy, and ways that you can keep your data safe. We’ll be breaking these topics down into three thematic areas: what personal information is safeguarded under privacy laws in why it matters; how you can protect your personal information; what you should do if you are a victim of a privacy breach.

Your personal information is valuable, just like your savings. Your personal information can be used to apply for credit, used to verify your identity with strangers, and your personal information can be used to create trust that others are actually interacting with you. In this section, we look at what personal information is safeguarded under Canadian privacy laws.

Why Should I Safeguard my Personal Information?

Identity theft is a huge concern when it comes to keeping your personal information secure and safe. Identity theft occurs when a criminal uses another's personal identifying information (like their name, identifying number, or credit card number), without their permission, to deceive others, commit fraud, or other crimes.

There are various forms of identity theft, but the most common is financial. In financial identity theft, criminals can attempt to obtain your personal information in various ways:

  • Sifting through trash bins looking for bank account and credit card statements
  • Gathering personal information from public websites and social media;
  • And in some cases, tricking people into giving away personal information over the phone.

Criminals increasingly use computer technology to obtain personal information for identity fraud. They may search the hard drives of stolen or discarded computers; hack into computers or computer networks; access computer-based public records; use information-gathering malware to infect computers; browse social networking sites; or use deceptive emails or text messages . Once criminals have the personal information they are looking for, they can ruin your credit rating and damage your reputation by posing as you on social media or elsewhere.

It can be difficult to know if you've been a victim of identity theft, especially if you don't check your financial statements regularly. Some clear indicators of identity theft include:

  • The inability to sign into online accounts
  • Inexplicable inquiries on your credit report
  • New credit cards in your name that you didn't apply for
  • Bills for items that you didn't purchase
  • Calls from debt collectors about accounts that you didn't open
  • Loan applications being denied even though you believe your credit is in good standing
  • Utilities being shut off

While anyone can be a victim of identity theft, children and adults who need regular medical care are particularly vulnerable. Children who are victims of identity theft may not become aware of it until they are adults, and adults who need regular medical care often provide a lot of personal information repeatedly to hospitals, clinics, caregiving agencies, and doctor's officers. As a result, this information can be more vulnerable to criminal access. Adults who need regular medical care often have others who manage their finances. Those who take advantage of vulnerable adults and may not inform them of details or encourage them to regularly check their accounts.

What personal information is safeguarded under privacy laws?

Equally important is understanding what personal information actual means under Canada’s privacy laws. A lot of data you might not think is personal information, can in fact be personal information that is protected under Canada’s Privacy Laws.

Personal information protected under Canada’s Privacy laws is any factual or subjective information, recorded or not, about an identifiable individual. Personal information includes information in any form, such as:

  • SIN, address, age, ID numbers, income, ethnic origin, blood type;
  • Opinions, evaluations, comments, social status, or disciplinary actions;
  • Employee files, credit records, loan records, medical records, intentions (for example, to acquire goods or services, or change jobs).
  • Financial or tax records, online access credentials

Data that alone is not identified to a particular person but can be combined with other data and become identified to that person is also personal information protected under Canada’s Privacy laws.

Next, we’ll look at strategies for protecting your personal information and keeping your sensitive data safe in Part Two of this series.

Kindred Credit Union

At Kindred, we believe you have a better choice for banking. We believe values and faith are central to life, and financial decisions are not values-neutral. In fact, we think financial decisions can impact the world in amazing ways—so our values are integrated into everything we do. We call this Banking with Purpose.

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