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Your Social Security Card is Lost or Stolen
When your Social Security card is lost or stolen you may go into panic mode. It’s not necessary to panic because there are steps you can take to get a replacement card and also to safeguard your personal and confidential information. This article covers the process and hopefully streamlines the steps that should be taken. It discusses the steps to take if your social security card is lost or stolen, and hopefully will address any concerns you may have.
In the case that your social security card was stolen, there are steps that should be taken immediately. If that’s the case, skip ahead to the section “Important Steps to Take if Your Social Security Card was Stolen”.
Your nine-digit Social Security number is not exactly a form of identification, but it’s a number that connects you with Social Security services and is used to monitor your benefits as you get them. However, it can be used as a form of national identity when used in conjunction with a passport. Although, in general, the United States uses state-issued Driver licenses and identification cards as a method of identification.
How to Get a Replacement if Your Social Security Card is Lost or Stolen
If your Social Security card is lost or stolen you may not necessarily need a replacement because in most cases you only need to know your number. There are situations when a physical card is necessary and then you will need to replace your lost or stolen card. Not to worry, it is a simple process.
Photo by Charles Deluvio
Avoid the long lines! You might be able to apply for a replacement Social Security Card online
If your Social Security card is lost or stolen most states offer the convenience of getting a replacement Social Security card online. Currently, the following states do not offer the convenience of an online Social Security card replacement service:
- New Hampshire
- West Virginia
For an updated list of states that offer an online application process for Social Security card replacement check this link. Also, states will not offer the online service for you if your driver’s license or identification card was issued by a U.S. territory (Like the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, or the Northern Mariana Islands).
The online process to apply for a replacement Social Security card
The first thing you do is sign in or create an online account with the Social Security Administration. Even if your Social Security card is not lost or stolen and you are not looking to get a replacement card it is a good idea to signup for an account. It may come in handy in the future for a replacement card, or other services. You can log in or create an account here.
Please note: Currently the Social Security Administration is not issuing replacement Social Security cards online. This could change at any time. To check, just go ahead and log into your account or create one, and follow the online instructions.
How to replace a card if your state does not offer online services
Please Note: Due to Covid-19, all local Social Security offices have been closed since 17 March 2020. The only way is to mail in your application. The steps are listed below for the process. And, when the offices open up the process is the same except you’ll have the option of taking the form to the office instead of mailing.
To replace a lost or stolen Social Security card through the mail, or in person when the offices reopen, follow these steps:
Gather the required documents; The documents must be original and/or certified copies. The Social Security Administration will return any documents submitted by mail. You will need the following documents:
- Proof of Citizenship — This is required if you have not established your U.S citizenship with the Social Security Administration before. They required either a U.S. birth certificate or a U.S. passport.
- Identification — This can be a U.S. driver’s license, identification card, or a U.S. passport.
If you can not provide the above forms of proof there are other documents that may be considered. These include; employee identification card, school identification card, and U.S. military identification card.
Please note: A single document may be used to verify both your citizenship and your identity, such as a passport.
Fill out and print the application. Fill it out here. This application can be used for a new or replacement Social Security card. It can also be used to correct information on your Social Security number record.
Mail-in your application. Or if your local office is open you can go in person. You can find the local office status, mailing address, and contact phone numbers here.
The National Toll-free Number
for the Social Security Administration is 1-800-772-1213
Unfortunately, if your Social Security card is lost or stolen during the Covid-19 pandemic it is a little bit of a pain to get a replacement card. These are trying times, and remember in most cases you only need to know your Social Security number, not process a physical card.
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Important Steps to Take if Your Social Security Card was Stolen
Identity thieves and cybercriminals value Social Security numbers. Your Social Security number does not only identify you but it is directly linked to credit and tax information. When your Social Security card is lost or stolen it is important to take action and protect your identity, bank accounts, and credit information. Following are several recommendations you can put into action immediately.
- Place a Fraud Alert With One of the Credit Bureaus — When this is done it alerts potential creditors and lenders to be more diligent when verifying your identity. You only need to place a fraud alert with one of the three nationwide credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax) and that bureau will notify the other two. The alert is active for a period of twelve months but can be extended.
- Put a Security Freeze on Your Credit Reports — This makes it very difficult for a criminal to open fraudulent credit accounts in your name. Unlike a fraud alert, a security freeze must be initiated with each of the three nationwide credit bureaus. There is no cost to place or lift a security freeze.
- File a Police Report — In addition to filing a report with the local police, you may want to also file a report with Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This way if your Social Security number is used in a crime there will be a record of the theft.
- Check Your Credit Reports — This is something that should be done on a regular basis (annually) anyway. But after your Social Security card is lost or stolen it should be done more often (monthly).
- Call the Internal Revenue Service — This should be done because it will help prevent a criminal from filing a fake income tax return using your name and Social Security number. The IRS can be reached at (800) 908-4490.
- Contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline — If you discover evidence of fraud concerning your Social Security number call the hotline immediately, at (800) 269-0271.
It is also possible to file an extended fraud alert with the credit bureau(s). This removes your name from credit and insurance offers made by companies that pre-screen you before mailing them to you. This removal is active for five years. An extended fraud alert also allows you to obtain additional free credit reports from the credit bureaus in the future.
Featured photo by Andy Feliciotti