It’s okay if you forgot. Social Insurance Number (SIN) are not etched permanently on our palms. Apart from forgetting your SIN, it is also possible for you to lose it.
If you lose your SIN or confirmation of SIN letter, it is in your best interest to understand Service Canada won’t replace your social insurance number (SIN). So get that idea out of your head right now.
The only time Service Canada issues you a new social insurance number is if you can provide evidence that someone else stole your SIN or your SIN number was involved in identity theft. If either is the case, you’ll need to do the following:
• Visit the Service Canada Office nearest to you.
• Carry along with the required identity documents.
Most individuals ask the question “What documents do I need to replace my SIN card? See here for identity documents.
A confirmation of SIN letter will be issued to you on the spot when you visit, and you don’t have to pay for it. Contrary to past procedures, the Canadian government no longer gives SIN cards to individuals who lost their SIN cards, so keep that in mind.
If you believe your SIN to be stolen or you think you are the victim of identity theft, Service Canada advises you to take the following steps:
- Make a complaint to the Police
- Review your bank statements and credit cards for activities that are out of the ordinary
- Keep an eye out on your mail for unusual activity
- Look for unusual activity by getting yourself a credit report.
Canada is a big country, and it’s possible for you not to find a Service Canada Office close to your location. If you live 100km+ away from from the nearest Service Canada Office, you can visit the website to ask for permission to send your identity documents by mail. However, if you decide to go through this route, it’s advised that you do the following:
- Send your papers through courier to the Service Canada Office closest to you.
- Ensure you send your identification papers through a registered mail service, so they don’t get misplaced or lost.
- Download a SIN application form and fill it.
How to Protect Your SIN number
Once again, it’s alright if you forgot. SIN numbers like almost every other number or password can be forgotten. But a forgotten SIN can be used to steal your ID. Your stolen SIN can be used to carry out the following:
Lease vehicles, equipment, rent accommodation in your name with you paying the bills.
Open bank accounts and credit cards
Steps to Protect your SIN
These are a few steps you need to take to keep your SIN safe:
- Store your private information, including your SIN in a place that’s only known by you.
- Never keep your SIN card in a wallet.
Properly shred documents that have your SIN.
- Do not keep SIN related documents in a recycling bin.
- Disclose your SIN only for legal reasons.
- Take action if you believe someone is using your SIN for fraud.
When You Have To Provide Your SIN
There are instances where it is required by Canadian law to provide your SIN. Canada has a few programs and government departments that require your SIN. You can find them here.
Also, there are a few organizations in the private sector that may need your SIN. The purpose of this is to report your income. Service Canada provides a few ways your SIN is used in Canada.
When You Do Not Have To Provide Your SIN
A few organizations prefer to ask for your SIN because it’s a secure method of identifying you.
However, this is not recommended except for purposes of reporting income. Because no law stops these organizations from asking for your SIN, you’re also not obliged to provide it.
Below are a few steps to take when you are asked to provide your SIN:
• Ask if the law requires you to submit your SIN.
• Ask whoever is requesting why they need your SIN, who needs it, and how will your SIN be used.
• If it’s not mandated by law, and you don’t feel at ease with the explanation, inform the person you prefer to provide other means of ID. Remember your SIN isn’t a part of your ID documents.
• If your concerns cannot be resolved, escalate to the person in charge of privacy issues.
• If the organization refuses to attend to your needs or provide you with the product or service you require on account of not providing your SIN, you can file a complaint here.
It is a recommendation that organizations in the private sector do not ask an individual to provide their SIN except with legal backing.
Although there isn’t any legislation stopping private-sector organizations from asking for your SIN, they need to put you on notice that providing your SIN is an option and not a compulsory requirement.
The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act provides the framework for private sector use of personal information, and this includes SIN. Organizations cannot coerce you to provide your personal information unless required by law.