Treat your NRIC with care and caution

Soon, it may become unlawful for retailers to collect and use your NRIC numbers to track parking redemptions, manage membership accounts or conduct lucky draws.

Consumers may win the right to refuse to furnish NRIC details and service providers must seek alternative methods to identify shoppers.

Building owners will also not be allowed to retain NRICs in exchange for visitor passes.

Behind these rules is the Personal Data Protection Commission. “The indiscriminate collection and use of individuals’ NRIC numbers is of special concern as it increases the risk that the NRIC numbers may be obtained and used for illegal activities such as identity theft and fraud,” the privacy watchdog said in the consultation document.

The NRIC number is a permanent and irreplaceable identifier and can be used to access personal information such as income, residential address and medical status.

Singaporeans have grown accustomed to handing over the NRIC freely to anyone who asks of it. However, it is not a bad practice. Through NRIC data, one can impersonate you, use the info to unlock more data or participate in activities without your knowing.

Just last month, Ms. Mandy Teo, 21, had her identity cloned and used by fraudsters to dupe people into paying for tickets to a popular Halloween Horror Nights event by Universal Studios Singapore.

The NRIC is an important document used for important transactions and should not be used in a casual manner. Organisations that ask for it must adhere to very strict limitations on how they can use the data.

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