The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is warning there's a new fraud for you to be aware of. Here's their official statement:
Consumers are reporting calls where fraudsters claim that your SIN has been blocked, compromised or suspended. Fraudsters may add that this is due to your SIN being linked to fraudulent or criminal activity. Consumers who receive this call are asked to provide their SIN and other personal information (DOB, name, address, etc.). Victims who provide their personal information to fraudsters are at risk of identity fraud.
These fraudsters are pretending to be calling from government agencies. Some popular examples include: Service Canada, the RCMP, and various court houses. As well, the fraudsters are displaying the phone number of these agencies on your caller ID.
I weighed in with BNN Bloomberg's Greg Bonnell to discuss this topic. You can watch the video here.
There's three main issues with your SIN
- Protecting it. When my book on this subject (Protecting You And Your Money) came out in 2014, the messaging was all about protecting your SIN. And that’s still important. You wouldn’t park your car on a dark street and leave the doors unlocked. You'd set your alarm and do your best to ensure its safety. Fast forward just 5 years, and it’s a very different story.
- Realizing it’s likely been compromised. My friend and cyber security expert Daniel Tobok with Cytelligence has recently gone on record saying that 100% of adult Canadians by now have had their SIN compromised
- What really is your SIN? Whom should or shouldn’t be asking for it? In addition to your full name, date of birth and other personal info, your SIN is a key part of your identity that can be used by fraudsters to commit fraud in your name – financial, crimes, immigration fraud, filing taxes and more.
It’s so sensitive that Service Canada has stopped issuing SIN cards.
You only need it for income earning purposes (a new job, opening up a registered account, etc.) DO NOT carry your SIN card (if you have one) or birth certificate with you. Take them out now and put them in safe keeping in your home.
Technically, when you’re applying for credit, your don’t have to provide your SIN to a bank or credit card company – but it is common practice. And when they get hit, we have more of our information exposed.
Our kids are not immune to this crime either. If you’ve opened an RESP in your child’s name, they are vulnerable. The crime started to be reported when my book came out and has been growing. To what degree? We don’t know because a child shouldn’t have a credit file – you have to be 18 to obtain credit and have a report created. But it doesn't mean that fraud in your child’s name isn’t happening and you might not know for years or decades.
What should you do to protect yourself?
- Check your credit report at least once a year.
- Put a pro active fraud alert on your Equifax AND Transunion credit files (these cost around $5 each and last six years – now free with Equifax because of the breach).
- We don’t have credit freezes in Canada. So especially for seniors with great credit and assets to protect. They especially need to have their guard up.
- Check your credit and bank statements religiously – there isn’t a consensus with banks as yet on how long you have to report fraud and get reimbursed (some are 30 days, some 60).
- Watch your mail – missing mail could mean thieves are diverting it.
- Lock up your investment account applications – lots of sensitive info on there.
- Scour your house, car and office for these documents.