Protecting your SIN

Your SIN is confidential. Do not use it as identification or provide it for job applications, rental applications, etc.

In the wrong hands, your SIN could lead to:

If someone uses your SIN to commit fraud, it could ruin your credit rating. Someone could also use your SIN to work illegally. In this case, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may expect you to pay tax on income you did not receive.

How to protect your SIN

To protect your SIN:

Do store your SIN information safely

  • Keep documents that show your SIN in a locked cabinet or security safe
  • This includes SIN confirmation letters, SIN cards, and income tax documents
  • Shred documents that show your personal information when you dispose of them
  • View your SIN securely through your My Service Canada Account (MSCA)

Don’t carry your SIN in public or leave it out in the open 

  • Don’t keep your SIN card or letter in your wallet or bag
  • Don’t keep documents that show your SIN in unlocked drawers or on devices without password protection
  • Don’t recycle or dispose of documents that show your SIN without shredding them

Do use other documents to identify yourself 

  • Use your passport, driver’s license, health card, or another document to prove your identity

Don’t use your SIN card or letter as a piece of identification 

  • Your SIN letter or card isn’t an identity document

Do know how to recognize scams

  • Beware of phone calls, text messages, and email messages that:
    • claim that your SIN is compromised
    • offer to replace your SIN
    • threaten to lock or cancel your SIN
  • Learn about scam and fraud prevention to protect yourself and your SIN

Don’t respond to an email, call, or text message that refers to your SIN, unless you know it’s legitimate 

  • Never provide your SIN by phone unless you made the call and know that it is legally required
  • Be cautious about:
    • messages from people you don’t know
    • messages about something you didn’t expect or ask for
    • offers, threats, and demands
    • requests to take urgent action
    • requests to provide personal information
  • Be especially cautious about messages that claim to be from the government
  • If you’re unsure, contact the organization directly and ask if they contacted you

Do provide your SIN only when you know the law requires it

Don’t provide your SIN to just anyone who asks for it

When to provide your SIN

Your SIN is confidential. The most commons uses of your SIN is :

when you are hired for a job and begin working

  • Employers must collect your SIN to report your income to the government for tax and social benefits purposes

when dealing with the government for certain transactions

  • You need to provide your SIN to:
    • file your taxes
    • access programs and benefits like employment insurance, student loans and grants, and public pensions

when you open an account that earns interest income at a bank or other financial institution

  • Financial institutions must collect your SIN to report your income (such as interest and dividends) to the government for tax purposes

For the lists of federal programs that are permitted to collect and disclose the SIN consult The Social Insurance Number Code of Practice.

When not to provide your SIN

Some businesses may ask for your SIN. This is strongly discouraged, but not illegal.

For example, you do not have to provide your SIN :

when you apply for a job

  • Employers don’t need your SIN until they hire you for the job and you begin working and earning income

when dealing with non-government entities for most transactions

  • You don’t need to provide your SIN to:
    • rent a property, fill out a rental application, or negotiate a lease
    • sign up for telecommunication services (like phone, internet, or cable services); an exception is Hydro Quebec, which must collect the SIN by provincial law
    • rent a car
    • complete a medical history questionnaire
    • write a last will and testament
    • apply for post-secondary education

when you perform general banking transactions and for financial transactions that don’t earn you interest income

  • You don’t need to provide your SIN to:
    • apply for a credit card
    • apply for or renew a mortgage
    • apply for a loan or line of credit
    • cash a cheque

when you request a credit report

  • You don't need to provide your SIN to get a credit report
  • Offer to provide other documents instead of your SIN for identification purposes or for credit purposes

What to do if someone asks for your SIN when it’s not required

If someone asks for your SIN, ask questions. Ask why they need it, ask how they will use it, and ask who else will receive it. Explain that your SIN is not required by law and that you do not want to provide it. Offer to use a different proof of identity.

Ask to speak with the person in charge if you are denied service without providing your SIN. Many people are unaware of the appropriate uses of a SIN. Once they understand, they may change their practices.

If you are not happy with the response, you should file a complaint. To file a complaint call 1-800-282-1376 or visit the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada website.

You may choose to contact the association, ombudsman or complaint office of the group for the entity that asked for your SIN.

If you suspect someone is using your SIN

If you think someone else is using your SIN, act quickly. This will help prevent loss and minimize the negative impact.

Be vigilant; Watch for signs that someone else is using your SIN. For example, if CRA contacts you with a Notice of Reassessment for undeclared earnings, it may mean that someone else used your SIN to work or to receive other taxable income.

If you suspect you may be the victim of a scam or a fraud; consult Scam and fraud prevention – Service Canada.

If you have been affected by a data breach

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the integrity of the SIN program from fraud and misuse. It takes any breach of information very seriously.

If you have been affected by a data breach it is important that you contact Canada’s 2 major credit bureaus to alert them of the problem and check for any suspicious activity on your file. A fraud alert can be added to your credit report (there may be a fee).

  • Equifax: 1-800-465-7166
  • TransUnion: 1-800-663-9980

Regularly review your banking and credit card statements for any unusual activity, especially after the credit monitoring service ends.

If you notice any suspicious activity, immediately report it to the police, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and inform Service Canada. This will help reduce the potential impact.

Service Canada does not issue a new SIN for those affected by a data breach.

Reporting SIN fraud

To report fraud related to your SIN, follow these steps:

  1. file a police report. Ask for the case reference number and the officer’s name and telephone number. Make sure the report states your name and SIN (your full SIN or last 3 digits of your SIN must be referenced on the document) and ask for a copy of the report.
  2. report the fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre on their website or by calling 1-888-495-8501. They can also provide advice and assistance on identity theft.
  3. contact Canada’s 2 major credit bureaus to tell them you have been a victim of identity fraud:
    • Equifax Canada
    • TransUnion Canada

    Ask each credit bureau for a copy of your credit report (there may be a fee). Obtain information about adding a fraud warning to your file instructing creditors to contact you personally before opening new accounts in your name (there may be a fee).

  4. review both credit reports. Look for accounts that you did not open, or creditors who have made inquiries on your credit report when you did not ask for credit. If you see anything like this, contact each of these creditors and tell them about the identity theft. Ask them to close any accounts you did no t open and decline any new accounts you did not request
  5. review all your banking and credit card statements. If you notice suspicious transactions, immediately contact the financial institution
  6. report any problems with your mail to Canada Post. For example, if you receive opened envelopes, or do not receive your financial statements.
  7. visit a Service Canada Centre with the following documents :
    1. a valid primary identity document
    2. the police report

      Note: You must provide one of the following documents:

      • the police case reference number/report you filed with the police or
      • the police report/letter confirming SIN fraud if an investigation was made
    3. a proof that someone has used your SIN to obtain credit or employment

A Service Canada official will help you. Your case may be referred to an investigator. Service Canada may issue a new SIN, but only if there is proof that someone has used your SIN fraudulently.

Once the list above is complete, provide the following information to Service Canada if you suspect someone else is using your SIN to obtain credit or to work:

If you suspect someone is using your SIN to obtain credit you must provide the following documents:

  • a letter from a creditor confirming that someone else used your SIN to apply for credit. This letter must include your name, your SIN (your full SIN or last 3 digits of your SIN) state that your SIN has been used fraudulently by another individual and that you are not responsible for any purchases made fraudulently using your information.


    • if the letter from the creditor does not indicate your SIN, a copy of the credit application from the credit issuer where your SIN was used to obtain credit must be provided. This application must have been filled in by someone else (impostor) and show your name and your SIN (your full SIN or last 3 digits of your SIN)
    • the information on the creditor’s letter must be linked to the credit application

If you suspect someone is using your SIN for work you must provide the following documents:

  • a printed list of all the employers who issued a T4 slip for your SIN over the past 3 years. To obtain this printout, call CRA at 1-800-959-8281. Review this list and identify employers for whom you have not worked. Service Canada will contact them on your behalf
  • a clear photograph of yourself. Service Canada will share this picture with the identified employers and confirm whether you have worked for them
  • a list of every address where you lived over the last 10 years

A new SIN does not erase your old SIN

A new SIN would mean an additional burden on you, as you would have to monitor, not only your old account and credit reports, but your new one as well on a regular and ongoing basis. Numerous SINs multiply the risk of fraud.

If you have been issued a new SIN

If you receive a new SIN, you are responsible to contact all your banks, creditors, pension providers, past and current employers, and any other organization with which you shared your old SIN so that they may update your files.

Note: Service Canada cannot correct a credit file.

If no action is taken, or if it’s not done properly, you risk not receiving benefits or leaving the door open to subsequent fraud or identity theft.

A new SIN will not protect you from fraud or identity theft.

If someone uses your old SIN and a business does no t check your account with the credit bureau, you may need to pay the impostor’s debts. Every time someone else uses your old SIN fraudulently, you will have to prove that you were not involved in the fraud.

The Government can only share your new SIN with the federal departments and agencies that use your SIN.

How Service Canada protects your SIN

Service Canada stores personal information requested to apply for a SIN in the Social Insurance Register. This information includes:

  • your name
  • date of birth
  • place of birth, and
  • your parents' names

Dates of death are also recorded in the Register.

Service Canada protects your SIN by storing personal information carefully in computer systems that are only accessible by authorized employees who have a "need to know".

For more information

For more information on how to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft, visit the following websites:

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