Canada phasing out Social Insurance Number cards for immigrants and citizens

The Canadian government announced they are phasing out the plastic Social Insurance Number (SIN) card issued to millions of Canadians and others in order to save money and help avoid identity theft.

All Canadian citizens, temporary and permanent residents need a SIN to work in Canada or to receive benefits and services from government programs. The nine-digit number is necessary for people to have access to government programs and benefits. It is also the number used by government officials to track the income and taxes owed by an individual.

From March 2014, Canadian citizens and immigrants who receive a new social insurance number will receive a letter from the Canadian government identifying their SIN, but they will not receive a plastic card.

"Along with better protecting Canadians' personal information, this responsible approach will also save taxpayers' hard-earned money by not producing physical cards and replacements," said Human Resources Minister Diane Finley spokeswoman Alyson Queen.

The government has warned that card-holders are at risk of having their identity stolen or being exposed to fraudulent activity if they lose their SIN card. The plastic SIN card has no security features, unlike many other cards such as driver's licenses or credit cards.

"As everyone here knows, it is a simple plastic card. There are no security mechanisms on it, so relying on it as a mechanism for identifying clients is not prudent," said Peter Boyd, director general and departmental security officer in Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

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