Just because you’re an employee or a self-employed worker doesn’t mean you’re immune to fraud. In fact, since you’re more likely to have steady income and good credit, your identity is particularly attractive to fraudsters.

Social Insurance Number

Your employer needs your SIN to create your payroll file and issue your tax slips, but this is one of the only instances in which you should reveal this information. Your SIN is highly sought after by fraudsters, since they can use it to, for example, obtain credit in your name. So you can see why it’s important to keep it safe!

How to protect and minimize risks
  • Don’t carry your SIN on you. Learn your number by heart and instead of keeping your card in your wallet or purse, store it in a safe place.
  • Don’t use your SIN card as a piece of ID.
  • Only provide your SIN in the following situations:
  • To allow your employer to create your payroll file.
  • To file your taxes.
  • To do business with financial institutions where you might earn interest or income.
  • To file for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
  • To set up a Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) or a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).
  • To receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit.
  • To apply for a student loan.
  • To claim a GST/HST reimbursement.
  • To apply for social assistance benefits.
  • To apply for Workers Compensation benefits.
  • To receive child support payments.

If someone asks for your SIN in any other situation, you have the right to refuse and file a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner.

Foreign Worker Fraud

Illegal workers can steal your identity and use your SIN to get legitimate work. Their proof of employment income will be issued in your name, and come tax time, since your income appears higher than reported, the government will send you a notice of assessment. You could be on the hook for back taxes on money you’ve never earned.

How to protect and minimize risks
This scam is a reminder of why it’s important to always protect your personal information in your daily life. See the General Tips section to learn more about protection.

The Fake Job Offer

Maybe you’re not feeling fulfilled at your current job, and so you’re keeping an eye out for something better. But be careful! An attractive job offer or business opportunity might turn out to be a trap. Fraudsters have been known to impersonate head hunters and employers. You respond to their job ad and they contact you saying they’re interested, but they’ll just need some personal information, such as your SIN, or your credit card number to pay for work tools you’ll need for the job. You might even start work, only to discover you won’t be paid for your services and, even worse, that your identity has been stolen.

How to protect and minimize risks
  • Do a background check on the company or the person making you the offer. An online search will often reveal stories from people who’ve been swindled by similar scams.
  • Ask questions—fraudsters don’t like them. They’ll quickly sense your scepticism and usually let it drop.
  • If the offer looks like it’s from a legitimate company, look up their contact information yourself. Don’t call the number in the job ad.

Fraudulent Loan & Credit Card Applications

If you’re employed, you’re likely to have steady income and good credit, which makes your identity particularly attractive to fraudsters looking to take out a loan or apply for credit cards in your name. This is one of the most common types of fraud—and one of the most profitable for fraudsters.

Professional Associations

You might be a member of a professional association or interest group, and you probably trust the other members in your community. But you can never be too careful! Scammers can exploit this trust to get personal information and/or money from you. For example, they might offer you lucrative-sounding investment opportunities or deep discounts on non-existent products or services, or they might even try to get your support to revitalize a youth centre or some other charitable project. But reality will catch up soon enough when you discover your personal information has been compromised—not to mention your wallet.

How to protect and minimize risks
  • Contact your association directly to find out whether the offer is legitimate.
  • Use the contact information you have on file for your association—don’t call the number listed in the offer.
  • Remember that there’s no such thing as free money. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Ask questions—fraudsters don’t like them. They’ll quickly sense your scepticism and usually let it drop.