Got a phone call today from the "Social Insurance Administration"

A recorded announcement told me that my Social Insurance Number (SIN) was used for some illegal purpose and I was in serious trouble and my SIN would be suspended immediately unless I called a given number immediately.

My first observation is there is no Social Insurance Administration. The SINs are issued by something called Human Resources Development Canada (if I had ever known that, I had long since forgotten it). Second, what in god’s name does it mean to suspend the number? I can’t remember the last time I used it (except to put on tax returns). Third, the government simply doesn’t work that way with phone calls asking that I call back. What a silly attempt at a scam.

At least you reacted correctly. But this poor lady is an example of why they keep trying…

It’s a scam.

Look for “scambaiting” on Youtube. There’s a metric crapload of videos. You can hear the scams in action.

ETA: There are also IRS and CRA scams.

Is the Social Insurance Number in Canada used as widely as the Social Security Number in the United States?

In the United States, as you probably know, it is used for nearly every government function and private financial transaction in the country. Is the equivalent true in Canada?

I got one from the China Federal Bureau of Investigation

No. We Canadians are warned not to give out our Social Insurance Numbers (SINs) to those who do not need them–“those who do not need them” being defined as “anybody who does not provide you income.” So you would provide it to an employer (you get wages), a bank (interest on your deposits), an investment counsellor (you get dividends), and so on. You might need to offer it if a lender (a bank, a mortgage company, a car loan) requires a credit check. Of course, the federal and provincial governments need to know it at tax time, and it’s required to disclose on income tax forms. However, if the federal government asks for it when you apply for a new passport, or the provincial government asks for it when you renew your driver’s license–that’s not fine, and is not allowed.

As the last two points indicate, it is stressed that a SIN is not a form of ID; and you can refuse anybody who asks for your SIN when all they need is some other form of ID.

“Steve Rogers.” That name alone would have made me suspicious.

This was different from the ones described above in that it was clearly a recorded announcement, didn’t ask for my SIN, but only that I call a certain number, which I obviously didn’t. Another difference is that it purported to come from a non-existent govt. dept. I suspect that the scam was getting me to call a number that would cost me to call.

And no, the SIN is not generally used for ID. It used to be that the SS card wasn’t either. In fact, mine issued about 1952 clearly says on it not for ID. Once, a grocery chain refused to give me a cheque cashing card (remember them) because I would not give them my SIN. At the time markets started taking credit cards so I started using them instead. Although I was opposed to the use of credit cards for food as it would inevitably drive up the cost to cover it. Nowadays I do it all the time; I don’t think they will take cheques any more.