Your Social Security card might be the most important piece of identification you have, so when it gets lost or stolen, it can be a huge cause for concern and you’ll want to get a new card right away.
It’s important that you act immediately in order to limit the damage. Identity thieves can wreak havoc on your life if they get their hands on your Social Security card. The truth is that anyone who has your Social Security number and address can access your sensitive information, including your financial records and credit card information.
When your card is lost or stolen, there are a number of steps you must take to both make sure that your private information is secure and to replace it through the proper application process.
Do not hesitate. Follow these steps immediately to prevent identity thieves from messing with your life.
If Your Social Security Card Is Lost or Stolen, You Should:
Place a Fraud Alert on your Credit File
Contact any of the three major credit agencies – Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. You only need to contact one of the three agencies because the one you contact will report the alert to all other agencies. This alert will last for 90 days but you can renew it if you still feel unsafe. The numbers for each are listed below.
Get Copies of Your Credit Report
You’ll need a reference from the time your fraud report is filed so that you will know of any fraudulent transactions that could affect your credit. Review these reports on a monthly basis. In fact, you should consider using a credit monitoring service to help you keep track.
Report Theft to the IRS
This one is important. Reporting your stolen Social Security card to the IRS prevents fraudulent tax returns from being filed. If you don’t report the theft immediately, you may be responsible for any fraudulent filings using your original documents. Make sure you cover yourself.
Here is the contact information to help you take this step.
IRS Website: www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection
Report Theft to the Federal Trade Commission
Like the previous steps, this is to cover yourself. It’s important to make sure you have a paper trail just in case a thief steals your identity.
File a Report with Local Authorities
This is another item that will help create a paper trail that can protect you. Having a police report will help clear your records if a fraudulent transaction is placed on your credit report.
Check Your Credit Report Monthly
This was previously mentioned, but it’s worth emphasizing.
Check your report every month. If you notice fraudulent activity, contact both the company holding the account and the credit-reporting agencies. In fact, you can get a new Social Security number if you can prove that your current number has been stolen or compromised. This is discussed in more detail below.
Report to the Internet Crime Complaint Center
This report is distributed to authorities that are relevant.
You should also check out the Federal Trade Commission official website for more information on what to do if your identity has been stolen.
Apply For a New Social Security Card
Finally, once you have followed all of these steps completely, you’ll want to apply for a replacement card.
This process can be tedious, so before we actually go into the details like when you need to go to your local SSA office and what original or copies of documents you need, we’re going to talk about one important issue.
When Should You Get a New Social Security Number?
If your card has simply been lost, then you probably won’t need a new number.
You should still follow all of the steps above just to be safe, but chances are that there’s not someone out to steal your identity. You may have simply misplaced it or forget to return it to a safe place. On the other hand, if your card has been stolen and you’re going through the nightmare that is identity theft, then you will need to register for a new number.
You will have to wait a few years to see if the individual who is stealing your identity gets caught or just gives up. But in the meantime, there is certainly some actionable steps to take.
If you find that you need to replace your number, here are some things you must consider:
- Getting a new Social Security number isn’t easy. For starters, you have to prove that the theft of your number has caused you legal problems, bad credit, or denied loans.
- Having a new number doesn’t automatically mean that your problems will just disappear. Your old number will continue to remain valid so you’ll have to continue monitoring it.
- A new Social Security number is like starting out with no credit at all, so you’ll have to work hard to build it again.
- The decision is completely up to the Social Security Administration. Even if you meet all of the above criteria, your application could be still be rejected.
If your case becomes so severe that you decide a new number is the only way you can solve the problem, then you will need to apply for a new number.
Steps to Apply for New Social Security Number
1. Determine whether your credit is at risk.
A lot of the time, thieves will just sell Social Security numbers to individuals looking to get a job. You’ll need proof that the theft is causing you credit problems. Be sure to gather this proof.
2. You must apply for a new number in-person at your local Social Security Office.
Here, you’ll fill out an application and also provide the proof from the previous step. Only third-party evidence can be used as proof.
If you’re looking to find your local Social Security Office go to our homepage and use the search bar to enter your city or zip code.
If you’re looking to apply for a Social Security card online, there are options available – just follow that link to find out more information.
3. Provide documents that establish all of the following information:
- U.S. citizenship
The process is tedious, and even if provide everything listed, you can still be turned down.
The bottom line is that when your Social Security card is either lost or stolen, it’s imperative that you take action immediately. Do not procrastinate. The sooner you can start the paper trail, the better the chances that fraudulent activities are cleared from your report.
Getting A Social Security Card After A Legal Name Change
This is the final reason you would need a new card or number. There are many reasons someone would go through a legal name change in the United States: marriage, divorce, court order or any number of personal reasons.
Here’s the catch: If you’re doing that, you need to put in a Social Security card application to let the government know. There is no charge for this service, but it is required of all citizens who change their names.
To get your card corrected after a name change this is what you’ll need:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of U.S. citizenship
- Completed application for a Social Security card
Some accepted forms of identification are a valid driver’s license, non-driver identification card, U.S. passport, employee identification card, military id, health insurance card (not Medicare card) or school identification.