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What to do if your SIN is Lost or Stolen

Written by Jessica Steer
Your social insurance number (SIN) is super important in regards to your identity. It is used to identify yourself to the federal government, receive pay from employment, apply and receive credit lines as well as many other things. You have to be careful who you give the number to and where you keep it because it can easily be used to steal your identity. So what happens when you can’t find this card? Well, whether it is lost or stolen, you want to prevent someone from using it to identify where it has been used as soon as possible.
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    What does your SIN tell you about you?

    Social insurance numbers have been around since 1964, and were originally created to identify people applying for employment insurance (EI), known as unemployment insurance at the time. Since it is possible for people to have the same name, a SIN is different. Each SIN is a unique nine digit number that is only given out once, even after the person is deceased. The government keeps track of all the numbers in a Social Insurance Registry and linked to each number is your name, date of birth, place of birth, and parents' names. Date of death is also recorded to help avoid fraud.

    Where to find your Social Insurance Number

    If you have a SIN number but you can’t find it or you have forgotten it, there are a few different places it can be found:

    • On your income tax return or NOA included with tax refunds
    • Tax Slips like T4’s
    • Record of Employment (ROE) from your employer
    • RRSP contribution slips
    • Submitting an application for confirmation to the CRA

    All of these different methods will help you get your SIN number if you can’t seem to find your card. However, if none of these are an option you may have to go to your local Service Canada branch in person. You are unable to do it online because you need to prove your identity before the number will be issued. They will likely ask for proof of address as well as any immigration documents if applicable. In order to avoid this though, it is usually a good idea to keep your SIN in a safe place where you can remember it.

    Getting a Replacement SIN Card

    If you have a plastic card that does not have an expiry date, the federal government is no longer issuing these. If you submit a SIN request, they will issue you a SIN confirmation letter in paper format. This is mainly because a card isn’t needed. You only need to know your SIN number. Whether you memorize it or have it on other documents such as the SIN letter, as long as you have it, that is all that you need.

    In some instances, if your SIN has been stolen, you can get a new SIN but it does not erase the old one. So even after you do all the required things, it is important to still keep an eye out.

    Find a SIN for your Child

    Once you register your child’s birth you should receive a SIN number for them. If they are under a year and have not registered their birth, you can apply online. Each Province has a Newborn Registration Service. If you live in a territory though, you will not be able to register online and have to go directly into a Service Canada centre to apply. The number should be issued within 5 business days of the birth registration being completed. If you have already gotten your child’s SIN number but you have lost or forgotten it, then you would just go through the same process through Service Canada offices that are mentioned above. Both processes are the same if you lost or forgot yours or your child’s SIN number.

    Identity Theft with your SIN Number

    It is very important to keep your SIN number safe. If it falls in the wrong hands, it can be used to:

    • Invade your privacy
    • Steal your identity

    Because your SIN number is used for anything credit related as well, it can also lead to loss of any government benefits that you have or hurt your credit score.

    If someone else gets a hold of your SIN number, it can be used to buy big purchases in your name. It can also be used to obtain new credit cards, loans and even open bank accounts. Someone who has stolen your identity can also use it to start a new job under your name which may require you to pay back taxes. You can also lose any tax credits you may have received otherwise. All of the other information needed for someone to steal your identity can usually be found quite easily, that is why it is so important to guard your SIN number. If it gets stolen and used, it can be quite a headache to get everything rectified.

    Dealing with a Stolen SIN Card

    If your SIN is stolen, you actually do have a few different options. The first thing you want to do is call Service Canada, it is important to have it reported that your number was stolen. You also want to call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and report the theft. This can help them figure out who stole your SIN. You should also report it to the police.

    Another thing you can do to protect yourself is to report it to the credit bureaus. When a lender uses your SIN number or tries to run your credit report at all, they have to validate the check before they can make an approval. They will usually contact you via phone. You should also keep an eye on your credit report yourself to verify everything on there was done by you.

    Ways you can Protect Your SIN Number

    A few ways you can prevent your SIN from being stolen are:

    • Don’t carry your card on your person
    • Don't use it as a piece of ID
    • Only provide it if you know it is legally required
    • Don’t give it out via phone call unless you made the call and it is also legally required
    • Don't reply to emails asking for it
    • Shred any documents that have your SIN instead of saving them
    • Make updates when any of your personal information changes, such as your name
    • Make any necessary reports as soon as you suspect any fraudulent activity with your card

    When should you supply your SIN number?

    When it comes to your SIN number, there are only a few times when you actually need to supply it. A few of theses times are:

    • When you get hired for a new job
    • Completing your income tax information or for other tax purposes
    • Opening an account with a bank or credit union where you incur interest
    • Trying to access government programs and benefits like the Canada Pension Plan

    There are many other instances where you may be asked to supply your SIN number. These instances aren’t illegal but they also aren’t a legal requirement. Some of these are:

    • To prove your identity
    • Apply for a job
    • Rent a property
    • Cash a cheque
    • Get a loan or a mortgage
    • Rent a Car
    • Sign up for a cell phone, internet or cable
    • Write a will
    • Complete a medical questionnaire
    • Apply to a university or college

    While the person who asks for your SIN in these cases may make it seem like you need to supply them with it, it is actually not recommended. They are able to get the information that they need without your SIN number and supplying it for cases like this could make it end up in the wrong hands.

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