RESPONSIBILITIES OF SIN HOLDERS
By law, Canadian citizens, newcomers to Canada and temporary residents must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada or to receive benefits and services from government programs.
You must provide your SIN to your employer within three (3) days of starting your new job.
Since it is not against the law to ask for an individual's SIN, many private sector organizations do request your SIN. Businesses might ask for your SIN as identification or to check your credit rating. However, because your SIN card is not a piece of identification, you should not show your SIN card or provide your number unless you are satisfied it is necessary. Your SIN is issued only to you and you have to protect it.
There are theft and fraud crimes related specifically to the SIN, which are punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both. It is a crime to:
knowingly apply for more than one SIN
use somebody else's SIN to deceive or defraud
lend or sell a SIN
manufacture a SIN card
As a SIN holder, you have four key responsibilities to protect your SIN:
1. Never give out your SIN unless you are sure it is legally required or you are satisfied it is necessary.
You must provide your SIN to take part in some government programs and/or services. For example, the Canada Revenue Agency requires your SIN when you file your income tax, or when you apply for Employment Insurance (EI), Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) or Canada Pension Plan (CPP)/ Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) benefits.
You must provide your SIN to your employer for income tax and benefit purposes. You must also give it to financial institutions for accounts that pay interest.
Other than for purposes listed above, it is your decision when to share your SIN information and with whom.
2. Take steps to protect your SIN, your SIN card and other personal information from theft.
Your SIN is confidential and contains important information. If it is stolen along with other personal information, your SIN could be used by someone else to gain access to a wide range of benefits, services, and information in your name.
Keep your SIN card in a safe place, like a safety deposit box. Do not carry it in your wallet or purse unless you know you will have to show it that day (for example, when starting a new job).
3. Inform Service Canada and other appropriate authorities if you believe your SIN is being used illegally.
Stolen, lost or borrowed SINs are used to defraud governments, businesses and individuals. If someone else uses your SIN to work illegally or to obtain credit, you may be asked to pay additional tax for income you did not earn or encounter difficulty when you apply for credit.
If you suspect your SIN is being used illegally or there is a risk it will be used inappropriately, follow the following steps:
a) Figure out if any criminal activity (for example, theft or fraud) has taken place. If yes, contact:
o Your local police
o The Canadian Anti-fraud Call Centre at 1-888-495-8501 (This national anti-fraud call centre provides advice and assistance about identity theft.)
b) Contact Service Canada:
o in person at a Service Canada Centre (office locations are available on the Service Canada website or at the number below)
o by calling 1-800-206-7218 (English) or 1-800-808-6352 (French) and select option “3.” (1-506-548-7961 from outside Canada.)
c) Contact Equifax (1-800-465-7166) and TransUnion (1-800-663-9980 of 1-877-713-3393 for residents of Quebec), Canada 's two national credit bureaus to:
o request a free copy of your credit report (one free report issued per year) so you can review your credit rating for any suspicious activity
o consider whether to request that your credit file be flagged to indicate that your personal information has been put at risk and may be vulnerable to fraud.
d) Inform your bank and creditors by phone and in writing to reduce your financial risk.
4. Ensure that your personal information on the SIN Register is accurate, complete and current. Contact Service Canada when:
you change your name (through marriage, adoption or a legal change of name)
your citizenship status changes
your SIN card is lost or stolen
you suspect that someone is illegally using your SIN
there is a death of a family member
you discover that information on your SIN record is incorrect or incomplete.
For more information on how to update your information in the Register, visit the Service Canada website or call toll-free 1-800-206-7218 (English) or 1-800-808-6352 (French) and select option “3”. Agents are available Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (local time), except statutory holidays.
If you are calling from outside Canada, the number is 1-506-548-7961 (long distance charges apply), from 8:00am to 8:30pm (Atlantic time).