Have you ever been asked to provide your Social Insurance Number (SIN) to do a credit check? Many lenders request this information during a loan application. However, are you even obligated to provide this sensitive information? More specifically, do companies need access to your SIN to check your credit score?
What Is A Social Insurance Number (SIN)?
Your SIN is a 9-digit number that’s needed to lawfully work in Canada or to get access to government programs and benefits. It is considered a sensitive piece of information because, within the wrong hands, your SIN can be used to obtain your personal data and invade your privacy. It can also lead to fraud and identity theft.
Do Companies Need Your Social Insurance Number (SIN) To Do A Credit Check?
Even if a business asks for your SIN as identification or to check your credit, you do not have to provide it. Your SIN is confidential and does not have to be used to prove your identity.
Having said that, it’s not unlawful for businesses to ask for a person’s SIN. Many private sector companies may request your SIN, but you’re not obligated to provide it.
If a company wants to do a credit check, it must be for specific purposes and with your informed consent. For example, if you’re applying for a job, your prospective employer may want to do a credit check before hiring you. To do that, the employer must use the information only for employment purposes and must provide written notice to you that they will be conducting a credit check.
What Information Do You Need To Provide For A Credit Check?
In general, lenders, employers and landlords alike can conduct a credit check using your name, address and date of birth. However, in some cases, they may request your SIN as it is an easier and more accurate way of identifying you. That said, you are not obligated to provide your SIN as they can still pull your credit and identify you using your name, address, and date of birth.
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Do Credit Card Companies Need Your SIN?
You do not need to provide your SIN when applying for a credit card. Your credit card issuer does not need your SIN to conduct a credit check. They may request it if they are unable to find your credit file or if you have a common name, but you are not obligated to provide it.
Instead, you can provide the following information when applying for a credit card:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Home address
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Current and previous employers
It should be noted that your credit card issuer can still get access to your SIN when they pull your credit report, since your credit report contains your SIN. So, even if you do not provide the creditor with your SIN, they may still obtain it when they conduct a credit check when you apply for a credit card.
Do Lenders Need Your SIN?
Lenders do not require your SIN when you apply for a loan. They may request your SIN in order to do a credit check, however, as previously mentioned, they can do so using your name, address and date of birth. Moreover, there is no legal requirement for you to provide your SIN in a case like this. But since the lender will conduct a credit check on you and pull your credit report to assess your creditworthiness, they may inadvertently obtain your SIN this way.
As such, be sure you trust the lender when applying. If you aren’t sure about the lender’s credibility, it may be wise to apply with a more reputable lender.
Do Landlords Need Your SIN?
Landlords may ask for your SIN when you fill out a lease application, but you are not obligated to provide it. If your landlord wishes to conduct a hard credit check, they can do so using your
full name, current address, and date of birth. They must also get your explicit and written permission before doing so.
That said, a credit check is also not a requirement for a lease application. Your landlord cannot deny your application if you do not provide your SIN. If your landlord demands your SIN or the need to conduct a credit check, you can file a complaint with your local rental authority.
Learn more about the tenant laws and rights in Canada.
Do Employers Need Your SIN?
While you don’t need to provide your SIN when applying for a job, you will be required to provide this information if you get hired. More specifically, you’re required to provide your employer with your SIN within 3 days of starting your new job.
Your employer will use your SIN to update the government about your income, any amounts withheld for government benefit programs, and the amount of income tax deducted from your paychecks.
Do You Need To Provide Your SIN When Checking Your Own Credit?
Anyone, including credit bureaus and credit score providers, can ask for your SIN. It’s not against the law to ask. But as mentioned earlier, you do not have to provide this information. Most ask for your SIN to help identify and find your credit file more easily. However, you can check your credit report and credit scores without having to provide your SIN.
When Are You Legally Required to Provide Your SIN?
In most of the cases above, you’re not required to provide your SIN. But there are certain times when your SIN must be provided. The most common needs for your SIN include the following:
- To legally work in Canada
- When you open an account that earns interest
- To claim government benefits such as:
- GST/HST claims
- Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits
- Régime de rentes du Québec (RRQ) benefits
- Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
- Canada Education Savings Grants (CESGs)
- Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs)
- Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
- Child support payments
- Student loans
- Social assistance benefits
- Canada Worker Benefit (CWB)
Keep in mind that you’re not required to provide your SIN to a private sector organization unless it’s specifically for a reason associated with a government requirement. Check out the government of Canada website to learn more about when to give your SIN.
When Are You Not Legally Required To Provide Your SIN?
You are not required to provide your SIN in several situations, such as when you:
- Fill out a job application (before getting hired)
- Renting an apartment or car
- Applying for a credit card, loan or any credit product
- Cashing a cheque
- Accessing your credit report
What should you do if you lost your SIN?
Can a company deny me service if I don’t provide my SIN?
What should I do if I think my SIN is being used by someone else?
Your SIN is very important and should be protected. If this information gets into the wrong hands you could be at risk of identity fraud. It’s important for you to understand when you are and are not required to provide this information so that you can protect your SIN and your identity.