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Giving out my social insurance number to agency in Spain
Thread poster: Suzette Martin-Johnson

Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
French to English
+ ...
Sep 16, 2010

Hi all!

I am having another "adamant refusal" moment but just want to check with you if I'm being mulish.

An agency I recently started working with in Spain wants lots of info from me including my SIN number.

They are very nice but are saying the # is legally required - I am feeling stubborn and not wanting to give it to them.... Identity theft is rampant, people! Am I being paranoid....or am I right in thinking they have no need for this number and I shou
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Hi all!

I am having another "adamant refusal" moment but just want to check with you if I'm being mulish.

An agency I recently started working with in Spain wants lots of info from me including my SIN number.

They are very nice but are saying the # is legally required - I am feeling stubborn and not wanting to give it to them.... Identity theft is rampant, people! Am I being paranoid....or am I right in thinking they have no need for this number and I should protect it at all costs? None of my other agencies seems to need it - but I'm not that familiar with agencies in Spain.

Thanks in advance for the opinions!

[Edited at 2010-09-16 07:47 GMT]
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Latin_Hellas (X)
United States
Local time: 16:03
Italian to English
+ ...
Probably not, but by phone if necessary Sep 16, 2010

It seems that Spanish internal revenue requires businesses to provide information on their suppliers, probably to ensure that businesses under Spanish fiscal purview do not evade taxes.

Each year, one Spain-based office of an agency asks me to comply with this Spanish internal revenue requirement, demanding, among other things, a certified letter from the US IRS that I am a taxpayer in the US.

Each year I ignore the demand and the Spain-based office still sends me wor
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It seems that Spanish internal revenue requires businesses to provide information on their suppliers, probably to ensure that businesses under Spanish fiscal purview do not evade taxes.

Each year, one Spain-based office of an agency asks me to comply with this Spanish internal revenue requirement, demanding, among other things, a certified letter from the US IRS that I am a taxpayer in the US.

Each year I ignore the demand and the Spain-based office still sends me work.

I would never send any such information over the internet or email, but you may consider it if the agency insists, you have worked with them before and it guarantees you steady work going forward, you feel that you can trust them, and then only by phone.

If it's a fly-by-night job, forget it.

Unfortunately and sadly, things like identity theft and other barbarities are rampant in the US, apparently in Canada too, and it appears that some continental Europeans do not understand reticence in providing sensitive information on potentially theft-prone venues.

Good Luck!

[Edited at 2010-09-16 11:25 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-09-16 11:30 GMT]
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Ivan Rocha, CT
Canada
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I would do the same Sep 16, 2010

I would rather abstain from working with them than risk the identity theft.

 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 08:03
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not paranoid. Sep 16, 2010

I don't think you are paranoid. We are always told: never give out your SIN number, except to the tax people. You don't have to pay taxes in Spain, so they don't need the number.

 

Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Tina! Sep 16, 2010

It's nice to know I am being sensible. Hopefully they'll stop asking.

 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
No justification Sep 16, 2010

I live in Spain and have worked with a couple of Spanish agencies for many years. They have never expressed the slightest interest in my social security number, so I cannot imagine why any legitimate Spanish firm would possibly want a Canadian number.

Have they paid for any work yet?


* Do Canadians have a tax identity number in addition to an SS number? Perhaps there is some confusion on this point.

[Edited at 2010-09-16 17:15 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-
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I live in Spain and have worked with a couple of Spanish agencies for many years. They have never expressed the slightest interest in my social security number, so I cannot imagine why any legitimate Spanish firm would possibly want a Canadian number.

Have they paid for any work yet?


* Do Canadians have a tax identity number in addition to an SS number? Perhaps there is some confusion on this point.

[Edited at 2010-09-16 17:15 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-09-16 17:16 GMT]
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Luciana Capisani  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:03
Member (2004)
English to Portuguese
Tax requirements Sep 16, 2010

I believe they want proof that you are a Canadian taxpayer. I have been recently contacted by a Spanish company and was told they would be obliged to withhold 24% of the pay in case I cannot send a document stating I am a Brazilian taxpayer (or that I am a tax payer in another country). Here in Brazil we have different numbers for taxes and social security, but this is probably different in Canada....
And I believe other countries in Europe have similar tax requirements regarding translato
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I believe they want proof that you are a Canadian taxpayer. I have been recently contacted by a Spanish company and was told they would be obliged to withhold 24% of the pay in case I cannot send a document stating I am a Brazilian taxpayer (or that I am a tax payer in another country). Here in Brazil we have different numbers for taxes and social security, but this is probably different in Canada....
And I believe other countries in Europe have similar tax requirements regarding translators outside EU.

Hope it helps!
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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:03
German to English
Don't think it's a scam Sep 16, 2010

There has been a massive amount of discussion here about EU-wide VAT regulation changes that took place the first of January and have been confusing a lot of people.

I would not take this as an indication of a scam, unless the agency is otherwise suspicious. The situation for international transactions within the EU (standard case and national exceptions) has been pretty well cleared up in various discussions here, but this is the first question I've seen from a translator outside t
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There has been a massive amount of discussion here about EU-wide VAT regulation changes that took place the first of January and have been confusing a lot of people.

I would not take this as an indication of a scam, unless the agency is otherwise suspicious. The situation for international transactions within the EU (standard case and national exceptions) has been pretty well cleared up in various discussions here, but this is the first question I've seen from a translator outside the EU working for a client in the EU and the answer would be interesting to know.

Can you or Luciana give any more details? Did they get more specific about why they need more details? Is it for their VAT refund or not related to this? Or is it really about proof that you are paying taxes somewhere, as Luciana suggested - or proof of residency/place of business?

Sincerely,
Michael
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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Tax Sep 17, 2010

You need a separate tax number here if you work independently and earn more than 30,000 CDN per year...or something like that. Until then, it's all one number. I am going to hold out and see whether they attempt to dock my pay because of my privacy issues. No, they haven't paid yet because our relationship is brand new....they have a great blue board record though so let's hope it's for real!



[Edited at 2010-09-17 01:38 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not necessary! Sep 17, 2010

Non-EU tax or identity numbers are not used by Spanish tax authorities, so there is no justification to request your Canadian Social Security number! Just state to them that your SSN is not legally required by Spanish authorities and that therefore there is no statutory use of it for them.

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nothing of their business! Sep 17, 2010

Luciana Capisani wrote:
I believe they want proof that you are a Canadian taxpayer. I have been recently contacted by a Spanish company and was told they would be obliged to withhold 24% of the pay in case I cannot send a document stating I am a Brazilian taxpayer (or that I am a tax payer in another country). Here in Brazil we have different numbers for taxes and social security, but this is probably different in Canada....
And I believe other countries in Europe have similar tax requirements regarding translators outside EU.

What? This is the first time I hear of such a thing. I assume that you are a Brazilian national living in Brazil, so your taxes are nothing the Spanish authorities should be worried about. Honestly, this sounds like this company was trying to keep 24% of your income.


 

Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Misunderstood reticence Sep 18, 2010



Unfortunately and sadly, things like identity theft and other barbarities are rampant in the US, apparently in Canada too, and it appears that some continental Europeans do not understand reticence in providing sensitive information on potentially theft-prone venues.



Your phone idea is my backup plan. Those digits will never be faxed or e-mailed! This is definitely not a fly by night agency (and they are actually sending me stuff in my beloved international relations - so rare lately) but I apparently came off as a little crazy when I tried to explain the rampant identity theft in North America. I am going to hold out a little but when I do up my invoice for this month's work if I have more difficulties I might crumble and give them a call!


 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
A Canadian certificate Sep 19, 2010

Perhaps it is worth calling the Canadian tax authorities and asking them if there exists a certificate, or something similar, that confirms that you are currently a Canadian resident and taxpayer. If the Spanish agency does need (or believe that it needs) some documentary evidence of your non-European status then this may work.

 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:03
French to English
+ ...
Be wary of treating something as "secure" when it isn't... Sep 19, 2010

You're right to be concerned about identity theft.

On the other hand, it's still important to weigh up the security risks vs benefits (i.e. being able to work for the client). So, additional things to consider:

- vaguely serious criminals know where to buy thousands of sets of personal details (generally stolen from large databases) for a few dollars -- they don't need to go to the effort of trying to steal a few measly sets of details from a translation agency
-
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You're right to be concerned about identity theft.

On the other hand, it's still important to weigh up the security risks vs benefits (i.e. being able to work for the client). So, additional things to consider:

- vaguely serious criminals know where to buy thousands of sets of personal details (generally stolen from large databases) for a few dollars -- they don't need to go to the effort of trying to steal a few measly sets of details from a translation agency
- for those criminals that really want to put effort into stealing a few individuals' details, at least in the US, the SSN numbering scheme is public information anyway-- there's really not so much "secret" to how your SSN is allocated (or put another way: with some other basic information about you, a criminal can make a very good guess at your SSN -- there was even a paper written about this a while back). Not sure about Canada, but I imagine the situation is similar.

Or put another way, unless the agency looks particularly dodgy for other reasons, or unless the job is particularly small, it's probably worth the risk and I think you're reasonably safe to assume it's probably not a front for stealing people's identity. Such an organisation doesn't really make a "viable business model" from the criminal's point of view-- it would be a relatively large effort for only a few people's details.
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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:03
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Driver's License Number Sep 19, 2010

An American translator living in Spain who gave me some work advised me to provide my driver's license number instead. This allowed her to fill out a blank which, if empty, could draw unwanted attention. Since then, I have told two other agencies about the identity theft concern, and offered my driver's license number. They both accepted it with no problem.

 
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