Your Social Insurance Number...Who Can Ask for It?

August 15, 2017

By Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC


I get this question a lot from the general public. And why not? If a scammer can get a hold of your SIN they can start the process of identity theft that can have a long-term impact on your life.

"Along with other personal information, someone may be able to use your SIN to apply for a credit card or open a bank account, rent vehicles, equipment, or accommodation in your name, leaving you responsible for the bills, charges, bad cheques, and taxes," Canada’s Privacy Commissioner.

When it comes to SIN cards, kids make targets too. Many Canadian parents apply for a SIN for their children at birth. A child’s SIN is valuable to a crook as the child has no previous financial or banking history to red flag should something seem amiss. If a crook has a child’s SIN, name, and address they can get away with a lot of stuff. By the time they reach the age of majority your child could already have a poor credit history. Just so you know, you don’t necessarily need to get your child a SIN at birth. They can actually get one themselves once they reach the age of 11.

Who can ask for your SIN? (From Government of Canada website)

  • Your employer
  • Your income tax information
  • Interest bearing financial accounts
  • Government programs such as Canada Pension Plan or Employment Insurance
  • RESP portfolios
  • Canada Child Tax Benefit and Canada Student Loans
  • Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) claims
  • Social assistance benefits
  • Veterans benefits and programs
  • Workers compensation benefits
  • Child support payment claims


When is SIN not required?

  • When proving your identity (except for specific government programs)
  • Completing a job application before you get the job
  • When applying to rent property
  • Negotiating a lease with a landlord
  • Completing a credit card application
  • Cashing a cheque
  • Completing some banking transactions (mortgage, line of credit, loan)
  • Completing a medical questionnaire
  • Renting a car
  • Subscribing to cellular telephone services
  • Writing a will
  • Applying to a university or college


Never, never, ever carry your SIN card around with you. Leave it locked in a safe place in your home. If an organization asks for your SIN you’ll want to ask a lot of questions such as:

Who gets the information?
What is it being used for?
Where is it being stored and for how long?