Ontario privacy, should I be worried?
September 19, 2018 8:39 PM   Subscribe

A short-term gig I worked on lost some paperwork I'd filled out, with personal info. How bad is that?

I did a one-day job at a temporary location and filled out a standard employment form for my field, on paper, which included my:

social insurance number,
driver's license number,
home address,

The company just emailed to ask me to submit the form... which means they lost the one I filled out that day.

Working on location is inherently disorganized, so most likely my form either got tossed in the trash or is just crammed in with some other stuff that hasn't been unpacked yet. It's pretty unlikely that an identity fraudster just happened to show up at that location on that day and stole my form.

But I'm annoyed that they collected this info from me and didn't treat it carefully. I need to be less annoyed, as the company is owned by some social acquaintances who hire me occasionally, so it's in my best interests to make nice.

So, what are the actual risks with this info being "out there"? How should I think about this so I can stop being irritated at these people?
posted by pseudostrabismus to Law & Government (4 answers total)
I won't talk to the risks, but if this happened to me, I would first confirm if the form was well and truly lost. Have you emailed them letting them know you already filled it out the day of? Is the sender of the email the person who was involved in getting you to fill out the first one?

I would also be upset, but I'd still consider it to be making nice to initially send a reply like, "Oh, I filled that out on [date]. Do you still need me to resend it?" This includes giving them the benefit of the doubt and also alerting them to the fact that they've potentially lost a document with such personal information.
posted by lesser weasel at 9:05 PM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

From my work experience at Service Ontario....

Your name and address are likely available through white pages lookup, and are on multiple junkmail lists.

SIN number - to access any information/funds held in your OAS/CPP, you typically must provide proof of citizenship (eg. passport, birth certificate)... not too worrisome there, as many people have lost that little plastic SIN card. Might be worth calling to the CRA, and ensure a note is put on your file, so they can catch up on any weird activity.

Your signature itself is not quite as interesting... it's more interesting in terms of reproduction value - like, if you filled out multiple forms, would your signature match? If someone wanted to get your signature, they would grab it from basic correspondence.
[When I did forms with people, I was often checking their verbal ability to tell me their age, as well as signature on form matching against their presented ID. If the sig on the form doesn't match the ID (or multiple pieces of ID), then we wouldn't proceed any further. ]

Drivers license number: not of concern - it's actually a public record. Anyone can walk into a Service Ontario with your driver's license number and get a copy of your driving/drivers ed abstract. Companies do it with their employees all the time. Similarly, bank clerks, bartenders, etc, can all legally request your driver's license to confirm identification - but again, that's the full components of the license working together to provide ID information (photo, sig, address, name, DOB).

In contrast, people cannot legally request to see your health card, or to know your health card number. If you felt your health card was compromised for some reason, you could declare a loss at service ontario, and the health card would be issued with a new 2-letter code at the end of your permanent health card number.

If someone were to show up at Service Ontario and try to replace your drivers license, we have to visually check the on-file photo last taken of you within the system, as well as the signature. If it doesn't match, then the interaction doesn't proceed any further.
For birth certificate replacement, you have to provide a ridiculous amount of personal detail in order to get the birth certificate sent to you, plus a guarantor in a position of authority.
For passport replacement, there's even more hoops.

In short, it would take focused time and effort to get a fake identity going within the Ontario/Canadian systems. I wouldn't personally be stressed out by the loss of this information; moreso annoyance at the carelessness of the employer...

Similarly, people lose their wallets all the time, which often have all of the information you've listed above. The most important thing is to keep your citizenship(passport/birth certificate)/marriage/name-change documentation at home, in a safe, fireproof secure place, as they are the cornerstone of all Ontario/Canada ID - even if you lose those pieces, someone can help you get them back.

Hope this helps a bit!
posted by NorthernAutumn at 10:33 PM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

While NorthernAutumn covered the risk aspect quite well, I'll add that a loss of identifiable personal information is a breach of the law. In the case of Ontario, which lacks a private sector privacy law, the federal law PIPEDA applies, and there is mandatory breach notification if the loss of information poses a real risk of significant harm (usually this will apply if there's any health or financial information for sure, but other areas will depend on circumstances). So if you're still upset and willing to burn a possible bridge, you could make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
posted by Kurichina at 6:33 AM on September 20, 2018

Thanks for the answers, all. I did what lesser weasel suggested- a friendly emailed "oh I filled those out, do you need them again?" and heard no reply, so I assume they found the originals. Thanks!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:33 PM on September 24, 2018

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