If you lost your Social Security card, or you believe someone stole your card, take immediate action. Your Social Security number (SSN) is the most important, and most valuable, form of identification you have from the government. A thief can use it to do anything you could do with it including purchasing property or opening new financial accounts. Your SSN could be sold to foreign people staying in the U.S. illegally or even used by criminals to commit crimes under your alias. Unlike with a lost or stolen credit card or debit card, you cannot close your account when your Social Security card goes missing, so you need to take this series of steps as soon as you can.
Steps to Take When Your Social Security Card is Stolen or Lost
Even if you only lost your card and do not suspect foul play, you need to search thoroughly in every possible location. If you cannot find it, assume someone took it and follow these steps:
- Place a fraud alert on your credit.
- Call one of the three major credit bureaus Experian, TransUnion or Equifax and explain what happened to your card. The bureau you called will place the fraud alert with the other two bureaus as well. Every 90 days, renew the fraud alert until you are confident that the situation is resolved. Be prepared for this to last several years.
- Get a new Social Security card.
- Visit an office of the Social Security Administration to obtain a new card or request a new number.
- Report the loss to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- Call the IRS at 800-908-4490 or visit www.irs.gov to report your card missing and prevent thieves from submitting a tax return in your name and receiving your refund check.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
- Visit www.idtheft.gov to submit your report.
- Report to local police.
- Filing an identity-theft report will help prevent you from becoming a criminal rather than a victim if a thief uses your SSN to commit a crime. Furthermore, it is required if you want to obtain a new SSN.
- Closely review your credit reports and accounts.
- If you ever notice unusual activity, report it immediately to the applicable creditor as well as to one of the three major credit bureaus. You must provide strong evidence to the Social Security Administration of fraud on your account to secure a new SSN. An identity theft protection service can help you monitor and protect your accounts to help with this process.
- File a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
- Visit www.ic3.gov to submit your report and keep your name clear with all levels of authority, from local to federal.
How to Obtain a New SSN
First, you need to determine whether your credit is at risk. Many times, thieves sell SSNs to people merely trying to get a job. Other times, the criminals use the number to commit fraud, which is when you need to get a new SSN by filing with the Social Security Administration. There are a few things you need to know first, however.
- The process is tedious. You must provide clear evidence of hardship, including run-ins with police, denial of new loans or credit that is too difficult to fix.
- The problem does not vanish when you obtain a new SSN. Your old SSN still exists, and therefore you must continue to monitor it. When you apply for new credit, your old SSN will still be associated with you.
- You ll have to build your credit from scratch. With a new number, you will have no prior credit, making loans and credit cards difficult to obtain.
- The Social Security Administration has final authority. The agency typically does not support giving out new numbers, and so it may not give you one.
If you determine that your problems are sufficient to warrant a new SSN, start by filling out the application, and gather enough information to prove your need.