Fact Sheets

Protecting Your Personal Information

In this age of electronic information storage and powerful computers, your personal information can be collected, shared and matched with a click of a button.

Canada has two federal privacy laws in place to protect your personal information.

With these, you can find out why your personal information is being collected, how it's being used, where your information is stored and to whom it is disclosed.

You also can access your personal information and even lodge a complaint if you are unhappy with how an organization is handling your information.

However, maintaining as much control as possible over your personal information can go a long way toward protecting your privacy.

How to protect your personal information

We often give out our name, address and phone number without a second thought. In a perfect world, companies would protect your personal information. Unfortunately, this is not often the case.

Below are some practical tips on how you can protect your personal information yourself:

  • Always read the fine print on sales agreements. By signing you may also be giving the organization permission to add your name to a marketing list. Check the "no thanks" box, or write and initial a short note on the document saying you don't want your personal information shared with anyone else.
  • Many retail stores ask for your name, address and telephone number when you make a purchase. If the store cannot give you a satisfactory reason for collecting the information, don't give it out.
  • Information collected on product warranty cards is very often used for marketing purposes. You are not required to send in a filled warranty card - your receipt is all you need to make a warranty claim.
  • Charities and other fund-raising organizations often share donor lists with one another. If you make a donation and do not want your personal information to be given to any other charities, enclose a note with your payment.
  • If you don't want your personal information out there, avoid filling out ballots for "free draws" or other promotions. These are surefire ways to get your name, address and telephone number on a junk mail or telemarketing list.
  • Many stores offer "rewards" or "points" programs. Often stores see your participation as consent to share your information without directly asking for your permission. If you want to avoid getting junk mail or other promotional material, either don't join these programs, or ask the stores not to share your personal information.
  • Look through a copy of any magazines to which you subscribe. Most mention they may give your name and address to other companies for one reason or another. They also offer you the opportunity to opt out of this "service". Do it!
  • Every time you make a call, dial *67 on your telephone (1167 on old rotary dial phones) to prevent your name and number from being displayed.
  • You may be able to remove your name from many mailing and telephone lists by writing to the Canadian Marketing Association, 1 Concorde Gate, Suite 607, Don Mills, Ontario, M3C 3N6.

For more information, contact:

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 1H3

Toll-free: 1-800-282-1376
Phone: (819) 994-5444
Fax: (819) 994-5424
TTY: (819) 994-6591

July 2001