Don't give up your SIN for a T-shirt

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Don't give up your SIN for a T-shirt

August 31, 2011

Hunting for an apartment can be stressful. After looking at countless places and finally finding one that suits your needs, you may feel the need to rush through that rental application, but hold your horses! As a new resident of the nation’s capital, I recently went through the process of looking for a new place to live. The last application I filled out had a blank spot for something I didn’t even think anyone could ask for—the landlord was looking for my Social Insurance Number (SIN).

This immediately raised a red flag, since I had always been told that my SIN was mine and mine alone. I knew that I should only share my SIN with employers and certain government departments.

I had a quick debate in my head about whether or not to ask the landlord about why he was asking for my SIN. Although I didn’t want to come across as uncooperative or sceptical, I couldn’t think of any reason why he would need it.

So I brought it up—and good thing I did! It was not mandatory. He said it would simply make it a lot easier to do a background check on me. Although this very well may be the case, I had just met this individual so how could I be sure he wouldn’t use my SIN to commit fraud or steal my identity? Better to be safe than sorry.

Another time to be cautious about giving up your SIN is when applying for a credit card. At sporting events or festivals, you can usually spot at least one credit card company giving away cool T-shirts or duffle bags in exchange for completed credit card applications. As enticing as it may be to pick up some free swag, be wary of what information the application is asking for. The company representative may encourage you to include your SIN, since it will speed up the application process, but you should know that it’s never mandatory to provide your SIN to apply for a credit card. In fact, you’re never supposed to use your SIN card as a piece of identification.

Here’s a link for more details on who can ask for your SIN and when you don’t have to provide it.

I’m sure there have been situations where you’ve been asked to provide your SIN when it wasn’t necessary to do so. If so, tell us your story by leaving a comment below.