Don’t use your SIN as a substitute for an SSN

Winter 2008 CSANews Issue 69  |  Posted date : Dec 23, 2008.Back to list

For some snowbirds, it is common practice to innocently substitute the first eight digits of their nine digit Canadian Social Insurance Number when asked by a U.S. business, bank or other service provider for a Social Security Number (SSN).  This may seem innocent enough, but you could face a different result than you bargained for.

Recently, the Canadian Snowbird Association was notified of a situation where a Canadian provided the first eight digits of their SIN when a SSN was requested.  The information was entered into the requesting company's computer system and was subsequently cross-referenced with the Internal Revenue Service data base for credit verification and reporting purposes.

The number provided matched the SSN of an existing U.S. citizen.  The I.R.S. contacted the F.B.I., who in turn paid a visit to our Canadian friend at their U.S. residence and proceeded to investigate this apparent case of identity theft.

The odds of this happening to anyone are about as likely as having a winning lottery ticket number or 1 in 100,000,000.  However, if it does happen, the results can be devastating. 

There is only one legal substitute for a Social Security Number and it is called an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).  You can obtain one by contacting the I.R.S. and submitting the form numbered W-7.


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