Can’t find your Social Insurance card? Think that your SIN card may have been stolen? Lost or stolen SIN cards are often associated with identity theft, which should not be taken lightly.
If your SIN card has been lost or stolen, you should contact Service Canada immediately. You will be re-issued a SIN verification letter, as the government has discontinued the previous plastic cards. Afterwards, you should monitor your credit report for any signs of suspicious activity.
Below, I’ll give you a step-by-step breakdown of what to do if your SIN card is lost or stolen, explain some of the associated risks, and give you some helpful tips for keeping your SIN (and your identity) safe in the future.
Your SIN is an important identity verification document. You’ll often be required to present it when:
- Applying for jobs
- Applying for government benefits
- Filing your tax returns
- Applying for a new apartment or home
- Applying for a passport
If you’ve lost your SIN card or SIN verification letter, then you may be starting to panic a little.
Before you jump to conclusions, though, take a minute to breathe. Often, clearing your mind and retracing your steps is the best way to find a misplaced SIN card.
Think back to the last time that you used your SIN card. Visualize how you used it and where you may have put it after you finished it. Perhaps it’s in an old pair of pants or at the bottom of an old backpack or purse.
If this doesn’t work, then you’ll need to follow the steps below.
If you’ve simply lost or misplaced your SIN card, then you can skip this step.
However, if you know for a fact that your SIN card was stolen from you (i.e., after a break-in or having your wallet/purse stolen), then you’ll want to start by contacting your local police department.
Report the crime and mention that your SIN was also stolen. This will put law enforcement on alert, and they may be able to catch the criminal in the act of trying to impersonate your identity.
If the criminal is caught and your SIN card is found, then you can rest easy knowing that your SIN isn’t out in the streets or being sold to strangers on the dark web.
Next, you’ll need to replace your SIN card by contacting Service Canada using one of the following methods:
- Phone: 1-866-274-6627
- In-person at your local SIN office
Service Canada typically operates Monday-Friday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm. To get your SIN replaced, you’ll need to provide Service Canada agents with other identifying documents, such as your birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, or ID card.
This helps prevent identity theft by letting Service Canada know that you are who you say you are.
Once Service Canada verifies your identity, you will be mailed a copy of your SIN verification letter. You should receive the letter within a week of resolving the issue with Service Canada
The government stopped issuing plastic cards, so you won’t receive a replacement card.
This means that you’ll need to treat your SIN verification letter with care. I recommend getting it laminated to protect it from spills and tears. You should also keep it somewhere secure, such as a locked safe or a dedicated documents drawer.
If your SIN card has been lost or stolen, it’s important to remember that your SIN number cannot be changed. The SIN verification letter that Service Canada issues you will have the same number that you’ve had since birth.
Unfortunately, this also means stolen SIN cards may still be used against you.
There’s no way to tell when (or even if) your identity will be stolen. A clever ID thief may wait for months or even years before attempting to use your SIN card once they’re confident that you’ve forgotten the event or moved on.
To prevent this, I recommend signing up with a credit-monitoring service like those offered by Equifax or TransUnion. For a small monthly fee, these credit bureaus will monitor your credit report and notify you of any changes.
If any suspicious activity shows up on your credit profile, you’ll be able to lock your credit, which will limit how your SIN can be used against you. This could also help law enforcement agencies take quicker action to apprehend the criminal.
A stolen SIN card can be used by identity thieves to impersonate you. When combined with other falsified documents and a good cover story, your SIN could be used to obtain loans and jobs or even take advantage of tax benefits.
This can ultimately damage your reputation and credit score, which can take years to repair.
Furthermore, your SIN card may also be used to obtain sensitive and personal information that can be used against you.
Here are some of the nefarious ways that a stolen SIN can be used.
Financial fraud is one of the most common crimes associated with identity theft. With your SIN card, a criminal could apply for loans or financing on your behalf. They may even be able to access your bank account and steal money from you.
Of course, the criminal isn’t concerned with paying back the loan they took out on your behalf. They’ll simply take the money and run to another province (or another country), leaving your credit score in ruins.
This isn’t quite as common, but it still happens periodically.
Your SIN number may be used to apply for government benefits and aid programs, which could affect your taxes and your reputation. If the benefits were fraudulently applied for, you might even face legal repercussions until you can prove that the benefits were applied to by an impersonator.
Employment standards are more stringent today, but certain cases may slip through the cracks. Your SIN card could be used by an ID thief to apply for a job that they’re not entitled to. Your SIN card may even be sold to an illegal immigrant so they can obtain a job.
This can indirectly affect you, as the CRA will have records showing that you earn more than you claim on your tax returns.
To finish up, here are some answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding lost and stolen SIN cards in Canada.
If you’ve forgotten your SIN number and cannot find your SIN card, then you can find your SIN number by checking your previous tax returns or employment slips. However, I’d still recommend applying for a re-issued SIN letter to make sure that you have a physical copy if it’s needed.
If you have an existing plastic SIN card, it’s still valid.
The government stopped issuing plastic SIN cards in 2014, as they lacked important security features, making Canadians more vulnerable to identity theft. Today, the government issues SIN confirmation letters, which serve the same purpose.
No, your SIN number will remain the same throughout your life, even if it’s been lost or stolen. Your SIN number will remain unchanged if you change your legal name. The only difference is that the name on your SIN letter will be changed.
Identity theft is a major issue and can have long-lasting consequences. This means that it’s important to keep your personal identifying documents safe, secure, and private.
Don’t share them unless they’re required, and keep photocopies password-protected.
Want more identity protection tips? Keep reading to see what to do if you lose your wallet in Canada!