Your Social Security number is used all across your financial and personal life to track and identify you. Social Security numbers were originally created as a way of tracking your work hours to qualify you for retirement, medical benefits and for tax purposes. Your number is now used to track your creditworthiness, insurance profile and even healthcare services and records.
While your Social Security number is your identifying calling card, rare is the occasion when you need to physically present it. It’s recommended that you keep your Social Security card tucked away in a safe, dry and fire resistant place - only taking it out when you need to prove your identity in situations like applying for a driver’s license, passport and mortgage.
So what if on the day when you need to retrieve your Social Security card, you realize that it’s nowhere to be found? While it’s a normal reaction to panic, there are immediate steps to take to quickly get a replacement card.
What to Do if Your Social Security Card Is Lost
If you lost your card, you’ll need to start the process of replacing your card right away. Here’s how:
- Register for a MY SSA account online at www.ssa.gov
- Gather the documents you’ll need to get a replacement card. You must provide at least 2 of the following documents:
- U.S. birth certificate
- U.S. passport
- Hospital record of your birth
- Driver’s license
- Government issued ID card
- If you meet certain criteria, you may be eligible to request a Social Security replacement card online. If you are unable to apply online, a visit to a Social Security office is required.
- Monitor your credit usage regularly to ensure that you are not a victim of identity theft if your card is found. You can get one free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion at www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also
What to Do if Your Social Security Card is Stolen
If your card has been stolen, it’s even more vital that you work towards minimizing the potential effects of ID theft and misuse by closely monitoring your credit reports and even freezing your credit. You’ll want to immediately perform the following if your SS card is stolen.
- File a police report right away. You’ll need a police report number to access services like a credit lock, or bank restitution if credit cards are also stolen.
- Call the Social Security Administration to report the theft: 1-800-772-1213
- Register for a MY SSA account on the Social Security website.
- Apply for a replacement card from Social Security when you call to report the theft. You’ll be required to submit documentation of your identity and citizenship before receiving a replacement card.
Freezing your credit may not be enough so it’s a smart idea to sign-up for ID theft and credit morning services. While it does cost a minimal amount, the piece of mind you’ll have from knowing you’ll be immediately alerted when any suspicious activity is found.
How to Keep Your Social Security Card Safe
Keeping your card under lock and key is vital to the health of your overall financial and medical life. It’s time to focus on protecting your card in the future.
- A watertight and fireproof safe can be a good option for keeping your Social Security card safe, as well as other important documents. Ask your bank about a safe deposit box if you’ll be away from your home for an extended period.
- Never carry your Social Security card with you. Unless you need your card for a specific purpose that day, it should be kept safe at home.
- Follow safe procedures for keeping your Social Security number safe online, in email and over the phone. Fraudsters use “phishing” techniques to get access to your personal data, often posing as a bank or government official — never give your social security number out.
- Purchase a shredder or use a secure shredding service for all documents containing your Social Security and financial information.