File A Report With The Applicable Authorities
You should report the potential identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.
If you believe your Social Security card is stolen or lost, you should contact the police and file a police report. By filing an identity theft report with the police, you will help protect yourself if an identity thief uses your SSN to commit a crime. Also, a police report is required if you determine you need to get a new SSN.
Check Your Credit Report Monthly
Checking your credit report is something you just have to do every month now. Despite all the other precautions youve taken and the paper trails youve started, a good way is to simply see for yourself. If anything seems amiss, make sure to contact both the company with the account as well as the agencies which report the credit.
What To Do When Your Social Security Card Is Stolen
Linda Collins – October 11, 2019
Your Social Security Number is wholly unique. Assigned at birth, no one but you has ever had that specific number, and no one but you will ever have that number again. It is a crucial part of your identity within the framework of the United States, and if your Social Security Card gets stolen or misplaced in a mugging, a home invasion, or any other type of robbery which can lead to identity theft, it is essential that you act fast and follow these steps.
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What Do I Do Next Ongoing Steps To Take
As weve talked about in some of my other blog posts, identity theft can be a long-term problem where follow-up instances of theft can crop up over time. However, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the damage and ensure it doesnt happen again. I cover several of those steps in detail in this blog here, yet lets take a look at a few of the top items as they relate to SSN theft:
Consider placing a fraud alert.
Look into an all-out credit freeze.
A full credit freeze is in place until you lift it and will prohibit creditors from pulling your credit report altogether. This can help stop thieves dead in their tracks since approving credit requires pulling a report. However, this applies to legitimate inquires, including any that you make, like opening a new loan or signing up for a credit card. If thats the case, youll need to take extra steps as directed by the particular institution or lender. Unlike the fraud alert, youll need to notify each of the three major credit bureaus when you want the freeze lifted.
Monitor your credit reports.
Once every 12 months, you can access a free credit report from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Doing so will allow you to spot any future discrepancies and offer you options for correcting them.
Sign up for an identity protection service.
What Happens If You Lose Your Social Security Card
Without your Social Security number and your Social Security card as physical proof, you might be unable to secure employment or collect benefits.
A lost or stolen card could also leave you at risk of identity theft. Identity thieves could fraudulently collect your accumulated retirement benefits, file for disability benefits in your name, or report your death so they can collect your life benefits as a false dependent. They could also open bank accounts, accumulate credit card debt and ruin your credit score, or steal your tax refunds by filing them using your information.
Up to 46% of identity theft complaints annually are regarding governmental benefits theft, which could deplete your lifetime Social Security benefit earnings. Bad actors could steal your information from your stolen or misplaced card, or even from your trash, where you may have disposed of your credit report or valuable information like your tax filings. If you live in a state where your drivers license includes your Social Security number, you could have your identity stolen from this identification, too.
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Monitor Your Bank And Credit Card Accounts
Keep close tabs on your bank and credit card balances. This is one way to make sure your SSN and identity have not been compromised. Many banks let you sign up for account alerts. They will send you text messages or call you if transactions exceed a certain amount or if someone tries to use your SSN to access your account.
Check your on a regular basis at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can usually only do this once a year for free, but due to COVID-19, you are allowed to get free weekly credit reports through April 20, 2022. If the Social Security Administration is still sending you an annual statement detailing your earnings, and it looks out of whack, someone might be using your number for employment purposes. You can register to get statements at the SSA website.
The three credit reporting bureaus are offering free weekly credit reports via AnnualCreditReport.com through April 20, 2022, due to the hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
When To Provide Your Ssn
Not everyone who requests your SSN actually needs it. Generally speaking, if an entity reports information about you to the Internal Revenue Service , you probably have to supply your SSN. This includes your employer, banks/lenders, the U.S. Treasury for savings bonds, and state unemployment insurance and workers compensation offices.
Although other institutions and businesses have the right to ask for your number, they often dont need it, and you arent legally required to provide it.
As of Jan. 1, 2020, Medicare no longer uses Social Security numbers for identification. Instead, Medicare recipients receive a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier a unique series of numbers and letters that they should also try to protect from identity thieves.
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Why Bother With Step 2
Yes, Equifax has been in the news lately for some less than stellar reasons , but when times are tough you gotta do what you gotta do. Its like telling a partner when you have an STD: it may not be fun, it may not be great, and it will lead to a long explanation of how you got in this situation, but its absolutely the right thing to do.
Shred Mail And Documents With Personal Details
Discarded mail and documents are a magnet for identity thieves. Dont just throw out papers that contain personal details such as your SSN. Get a paper shredder and use it on a regular basis. While youre at it, dont leave mail in an outside mailbox for long periods. Stealing mail is another way thieves can make off with your information.
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How To Report A Stolen Social Security Card
This article was co-authored by Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD. Clinton M. Sandvick worked as a civil litigator in California for over 7 years. He received his JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and his PhD in American History from the University of Oregon in 2013.There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 547,846 times.
One of fastest growing crimes in the United States is identity theft. Over 13.1 million Americans were victims of identity fraud in 2013 alone.XResearch source Thieves can target social security cards and then charge up credit cards under your name. Luckily, the Social Security Administration has a department devoted to receiving reports of stolen social security cards and preventing future fraud.
What Should You Do If You Think Your Social Security Number Has Been Stolen
If you think your SSN has been stolen, you should immediately reach out to your banks, credit card companies and other financial services providers to let them know. Youll also want to inform the three main credit bureaus. Its a good idea to file a police report to have an official record, and make sure to check the FTCs official recommendations, which list who to notify and how.
Having your identity stolen can wreak havoc on your personal and financial life, but being as careful as possible with your SSN can help protect you. If you do find yourself the victim of identity theft or fraud, you may need to seek help from a or legal counsel.
Reviewed by Anna Grozdanov, Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. by Lexington Law.
Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.
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Get A New Social Security Card
You can either contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 to request a replacement Social Security card, or register for a MY SSA account online at www.ssa.gov and provide documents as proof of identity. This can include a U.S. birth certificate or passport, hospital record of birth, or a drivers license.
If this isn’t possible for any reason, you’ll need to visit a local Social Security Administration office to obtain a new card or request a new number.
What Can A Scammer Do With The Last 4 Digits Of Your Social Security Number
In most circumstances, a hacker or scammer may use the last four digits of your SSN to register accounts in your name, steal your money and government benefits, and even gain healthcare and tax returns in your name if they have access to additional personal information such as your name and address.
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Do I Need A Physical Social Security Replacement Card
A Social Security number is what helps you get jobs and collect Social Security benefits and other government services. An SSN is essential the physical card is less so. In most cases, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration , knowing your SSN is sufficient. For example, if you want to get a Real ID to fly domestically or access certain federal facilities, an SS card isnt necessary. Rather, you could use a recent pay stub, a W-2, an SSA-1099 , or other tax documents that show your full name. Even just knowing your SSN can serve as proof, believe it or not.
Use Safe Websites & Services & Check For Breaches Regularly
Always make sure that any website or online service that you frequent utilizes the latest security protections and certificates that allow for safe and secure personal data exchanges and storage. Do not send your personal details by email or text, and never fill out any forms on sites you do not recognize.
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If Your Social Security Card Is Stolen This Is What You Should Do
Back in the 1930s when Social Security numbers were first introduced, they were not meant to be used as we use them today. However, if you are like most people, you use your SS number constantly it might be at the bank, the doctors office, or somewhere else. You need to use a SS number to get a job, to open a credit or bank account, and even to get married. Since we use this number so often, what happens if your card is stolen or lost? This is what to do:
Put a Fraud Alert on your Credit Report
First, you want to put a fraud alert on your credit report by contacting all three major credit bureaus. When you do this, lenders and creditors use very strict guidelines when they screen any application with your information on it. These alerts last for a year, but you can get an extension when that year has passed.
Freeze Your Credit
If you want to get even more secure, think about freezing your credit. When doing so, you cannot use your credit for things like refinancing or opening a new credit line until you lift the freeze, which is good, because neither can a criminal.
Consider ID Theft Protection
If you can afford a couple of hundred dollars a year, you should consider ID theft protection. This ensures that your credit is monitored 24/7 by a team of experts who can also help to restore your credit if someone steals it.
Watch Your Credit Report
Be Smart When Online
What Are The Dangers Of Losing My Social Security Card
Scammers can use your SSN to apply for credit cards or loans in your name, or commit account takeover fraud and steal or access additional personal 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 your Social Security card is not stolen or lost, you need to remain vigilant for scammers who call you claiming theres a problem with your SSN or account and try to get you to divulge personal information. If theres 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.
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Find Contact Information For The Major Credit Bureaus
Once you have the police report, go online and find the contact information for all three major credit bureaus. The three national credit bureaus are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Dont contact them through email youll have to find their physical mailing addresses and phone numbers on their pages.
Place A Fraud Alert On Your Credit File
One of the first steps you should take if your SSN or card is stolen or lost is to place an initial fraud alert on your credit file. Placing a fraud alertprovides you extra protection as a notice is placed on your credit file with the three major credit bureaus, alerting potential creditors to contact you before a new account is opened in your name.
You will need to contact one of the three major credit bureaus Experian , TransUnion , or Equifax to place a fraud alert and to inform them of what happened to your SSN or card. Whichever bureau you contact to place a fraud alert, they will place the fraud alert with the other two bureaus as well.
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Check Your Credit Report
One of the first places you may see indicators of identity theft is on your credit report. Thieves can use your information to take out a new credit card or loan in your name. That can show up on your credit report. Take advantage of regular checks of your credit report to help quickly catch suspicious activity.
How Do I Report My Social Security Card Stolen
You should call your local law enforcement to report your card stolen. They can take a police report and begin an investigation into finding the thief. You should also notify the Social Security Administration that your card has been stolen as well as the IRS. Notifying these agencies, in addition to the credit bureaus, will flag your SSN and make it more difficult for the thief to perform fraudulent activity using your SSN.
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Can I Change My Social Security Number
Yes. Sort of. The Social Security Administration can assign a new SSN in a limited number of cases. However, per the SSA, When we assign a different Social Security number, we do not destroy the original number. We cross-refer the new number with the original number to make sure the person receives credit for all earnings under both numbers.
In other words, your SSN is effectively forever, which means if its stolen, youre still faced with clearing up any of the malicious activity associated with the theft potentially for quite some time. Thats yet another reason why the protection of your SSN deserves particular attention.
Contact The Internal Revenue Service
You may also want to contact the Internal Revenue Service if you suspect an identity thief has filed a tax return in your name to get a refund. The IRS should also be on your list of contacts if you suspect someone is using your number for work purposes. Otherwise, the IRS could think you failed to report income when you file your own tax return. Use the IRS Identity Theft Central website or call 800-908-4490.
How Can I Protect My Social Security Number For Free
Here are some things you can do to protect your Social Security number: Provide an alternativeform of identification. Inquire as to why they want it and how they intend to use it. Remove your card from your wallet and leave it at home. Mail and documents containing personal information should be shredded. Dont Use Your Social Security Number as a Password. Dont use an electronic device to send your Social Security number. Dont give it to random people.