I was reading an internal newsgroup at work, where someone posted a story about how they had gone to see a “Financial Planner” and this person had asked this person for a bunch of personal stuff including their S.I.N. ( Social Insurance Number for those who are not Canadian).
The S.I.N. is the basis of your identity in Canada. Without it, I am not sure if you even exist in the Government’s eyes, so it is a fairly important ID number (I wonder how it is encoded?). If someone gets this number they can become YOU very quickly (and if this happens go here to report it). The Canadian Privacy commissioner actually has a web page dedicated to reasons why you should not give out your SIN . To quote them directly:
Although only certain government departments and programs are authorized to collect and use the SIN, there is no legislation that prohibits organizations asking for it.
They can ASK for it, but you better not give it out, is the rough translation I read into this.
Who will ask for this number? Credit Card companies, finance companies, banks and the government nobody else (at least nobody else should). The Bank is about the only place you should give this out to, and even then, ask WHY they need it. I gave mine to Equifax, so that they could do a credit check on me, but that is the only other folks who get my S.I.N. (at least that is what I hope).
Can they have your Social Insurance Number ?
Your S.I.N. is the basis of your Governmental existence, if someone has it, they are you, and can do whatever they want. Protect this number, do not give it out, do not send it in e-mails, if you have it on a document duplicate the document with that information blotted out, and then SHRED the document (unless it is an official document you must keep the original of). I cannot emphasize this enough, protect your S.I.N. .
Can I have your SIN Number then?
Well if you want the scenario that works, I get your SIN number, I get a credit report from Equifax about you, or figure out which bank you are at and get the information from there. I may not BE you, but I am now spending your money.
Apologies if the wording is alarmist, but I think it is correct.
Employers also require it.
And the statement, “if someone has it, they are you, and can do whatever they want as you” is a gross over-statement and is fear-mongering. A SIN card is not photo ID, and considering the fact that almost everyone out there requires photo ID, the only thing I’m ever going to get worried is over someone who looks a lot like I do.
That being said, I no longer even have a SIN card (it broke in half after years of being in my wallet) and don’t plan on ever getting a new one as I have it memorized.
The SIN number is not a PIN number though and we all write it in plain sight on our tax returns every year, we give it to all our employers, and anyone can get a hold of it quite easily if they wanted to.
Someone will need to do a lot more work besides getting your SIN before “they are you, and can do whatever they want as you.” Whether or not they can do anything with your SIN number at all is an open question.
Yeah, you are legally required to give it to your employer, but only after being extended a job offer. There is nobody else you are legally required to provide it to outside the government. Even Equifax can run a credit check without it.
Just goes to show you the kind of state the personal financial advisor field is in right now. I’m about to take my first CSC exam and my instructor has been telling us horror stories of her 15 years in the industry and how idiots and completely unethical people get into the indsutry. It’s pretty sad.