Most of us use our Social Security number all of the time, whether it’s at the doctor’s office, at the bank, or applying for government benefits and filing taxes. You need a Social Security number to apply for jobs, to open a credit card account, and even to get married. Because we use this number so much, many of us have it memorized and very rarely have to pull out our Social Security cards – but what happens if your Social Security card is lost or stolen?
Having your Social Security card lost or stolen may expose you to identity theft and fraud, lost finances, and damaged credit. We’ve created this guide to help you understand how to quickly replace your Social Security card if it falls into the wrong hands.
What do I do if my Social Security card or number is stolen or lost?
If your Social Security card or number (SSN) is lost or stolen, you should immediately contact your local police department and the Social Security Administration (call toll-free 1-800-772-1213) to let them know about the incident. Once you’ve done that, there are a few other things that you can do to help mitigate the risks involved with losing your Social Security Card.
How do thieves profit from stolen Social Security cards?
Identity thieves can use your SSN to apply for more credit in your name. Of course, the scammers never pay the bills, which can damage your credit, and cause you to get calls from unknown credit demanding payment for items you never bought.
How do I replace my lost or stolen Social Security card?
In normal times, the best ways to apply for a replacement card are to visit the Social Security Administration’s website, go to a local SSA office or apply over the phone. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all local Social Security offices were closed to the public for in-person service starting March 17, 2020. The SSA no longer allows you to order a replacement card online or over the phone.
Currently, the only way to apply for a replacement card is to fill out an application and mail it to your local SSA Field Office, along with one proof of your identity, such as your driver’s license, U.S. Passport, U.S. birth certificate, U.S. Military ID, or your last Physician’s report showing your date of birth. (Note: You must send in an actual document, not a photocopy or even notarized photocopy.)
Once you receive your replacement card, don’t put it in your purse or wallet. Keep it stored securely in a safety deposit box, or at home.
Do I need to order a physical Social Security replacement card?
Yes, if you want to fly in the U.S. starting late next year. Beginning in October 2021, you will need to show a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license in order to fly in the U.S. You must have a physical Social Security card to apply for a REAL ID.
What are the dangers of losing my Social Security card?
Scammers will use stolen or highjacked phones and an SSN to access one-time passwords that allow them entry to bank accounts, credit cards, and other sensitive financial information. One of the fastest-growing COVID-19-related identity theft crimes is tax fraud and identity theft, whereby thieves file a phony tax return in your name, hoping to snag a refund before you catch on. If your Social Security card is stolen, be sure to report the loss to the Internal Revenue Service. Another recent COVID-19 scam that cruelly exploits job losses involves filing phony unemployment claims using your SSN, birth date, name, or address.
Even if you haven’t had your Social Security card stolen or lost, you need to remain vigilant for scammers who call you (known as a vishing scam) claiming there’s a problem with your SSN or account and try to get you to divulge personal information. If there’s a legitimate problem with your number or account, the Social Security Administration will mail you a letter with your Social Security number. To learn how to respond to unsolicited robocalls or calls using caller ID spoofing, visit this SSA webpage.
How do I protect my identity if I’ve lost my Social Security card?
There are several things you can do to minimize the risk that your card or number will be used for illicit purposes.
- Place a fraud alert | Contact one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion) to place a fraud alert on your credit file. You may also want to place a credit freeze. And, while a credit freeze won’t stop the majority of identity theft from occurring, it can alert you to suspicious activity and is an important part of layered protection against identity crime.
- Review your financial statements | You should use credit monitoring tools to help watch your credit card and bank activity for suspicious activity and review your credit reports. Look over your report for any activity you did not authorize, such as opening a new credit card, and immediately report any fraudulent or inaccurate information to creditors.
- Use an Identity Theft Protection Service | These services ensure that your credit and identity are monitored 24/7 by a team of pros who can also help you restore your identity if it is stolen. Make sure you understand exactly how the identity theft protection service works before you sign up.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.