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Tips for Reducing the Risk of Identity Theft

Part 3: Keeping Your Key Documents Secure

Documents that contain important personal information, such as your driver’s license, birth certificate, Social Insurance Card, passport, or citizenship and immigration documents can be resources for identity thieves. Criminals can use these documents to obtain others and to gain access to more of your personal and financial information. Keep these documents safe to ensure that they don’t fall into the wrong hands. If one of these documents is lost or stolen, notify the issuing agency right away.

Driver’s Licence

A driver’s licence has become the most universally accepted and trusted picture identification card issued by government. While its purpose is to show that you have the privilege to drive, society generally accepts the driver’s licence as an identity document. Because it’s so well accepted, if your driver’s licence is stolen, scanned, faked or obtained fraudulently, it can serve as a crucial tool for committing crime.

Motor vehicle and driver’s licence issuing agencies across North America are working together to make it harder to forge drivers’ licences and to tighten the controls used when issuing licences.

Birth certificate

The birth certificate is the primary government document issued to anyone born in Canada. The birth certificate is required when applying for a passport or Social Insurance Card as well as for other provincial or federal programs.

Birth certificates, unlike many identity documents, don’t have an expiry date. You shouldn’t carry your birth certificate in your wallet or purse. Keep it in a secure place such as a safety deposit box.

Social Insurance Number

Social Insurance Numbers (SINs) are used in a wide variety of databases as a primary identifier. Computer-savvy criminals can collect information about you by searching databases.

Although certain government departments and programs are authorized to collect and use the SIN, there is no legislation that prohibits other organizations asking for it. You can challenge a request for your SIN. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has a fact sheet with more details. (1-800-282-1376 or Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada)

You do not have to give your SIN to anyone who isn’t authorized to collect the information. Also, don’t carry your SIN in your wallet, purse or car. Keep it in a secure place like a safety deposit box.

Other Identification Documents

The federal government also provides the following identification documents. These should be kept secure. If they are lost or stolen, see Federal Government contact information for web sites and telephone numbers.

Permanent Resident Card

The Permanent Resident Card provides holders with secure proof of their permanent resident status when re-entering Canada.

Citizenship Card

The Citizenship Card is a wallet-sized document, covered in plastic, which certifies that you are a Canadian citizen. It also acts as identification and includes your photo, signature and personal details. It's an official document issued by the Government of Canada and is needed as proof of your citizenship when applying for jobs, a passport, etc.


A Passport is the only proof of your citizenship and identity that is accepted in all countries. You must report the loss or theft as soon as it is noticed to the local police and your nearest passport office, or to the nearest Canadian diplomatic or consular mission if you are outside of Canada.