You Lost Your Social Security Card…Now What?

I Lost My Social Security Card!  This is one phrase that will strike fear in just about anyone.

You’ve left the restau­rant, you’re hav­ing a good time with those you love, and when you get to the next place on the agenda for the evening you real­ize that you were hav­ing such a good time that you for­got your wal­let. This causes a slight heart pal­pi­ta­tion for a moment as you dash back to the restau­rant, bother the peo­ple who are sit­ting at your table now as you fran­ti­cally search for where you might have dropped it, and in the end, you get zero hope from the state­ment from the host­ess who says they’ll con­tact you if they ever find it. Los­ing a Social Secu­rity card hap­pens more often than you might think – if you’ve lost yours, then here’s what you’re going to need to do to get another one… along with the pro­tec­tive steps you’ll need to take if whomever has your card has some plans for it.

The First Thing To Do Is File for Your Replace­ment Card

Because of the time that it takes to get your card and the amount of mate­ri­als you may need to obtain that you don’t have, the first step you’ll need to take is to work on fil­ing for your replace­ment card. In order to get your replace­ment card, you must:Gather doc­u­ments prov­ing your:Iden­tity. This is done through your driver’s license, a state issued non-driver iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card, or your pass­port. If you don’t have one these or can­not get a replace­ment copy in 10 busi­ness days, then there is a sec­ondary list which the Social Secu­rity Admin­is­tra­tion can use. Non-citizens will need to pro­vide proof of their immi­gra­tion sta­tus through their I-551, I-94, or I-766 froms.U.S. cit­i­zen­ship. If you have not estab­lished your cit­i­zen­ship with the Social Secu­rity Admin­is­tra­tion, you will need to pro­vide an orig­i­nal copy or agency-issued cer­ti­fied copy of either your birth cer­tifi­cate, your pass­port, Cer­tifi­cate of Nat­u­ral­iza­tion, or Cer­tifi­cate of Cit­i­zen­ship with your appli­ca­tion materials.Immi­gra­tion sta­tus. If you are not a U.S. cit­i­zen, then you’ll need to pro­vide proof of your immi­gra­tion sta­tus through the iden­tity doc­u­ments listed above. In addi­tion, if you are a stu­dent or a J1 vis­i­tor, you may need to pro­vide addi­tional doc­u­men­ta­tion regard­ing your legal sta­tus in the country.

Once you have gath­ered the doc­u­ments that you need to prove that you really who you say you are, you will then need to com­plete an Appli­ca­tion for a Social Secu­rity Card. Be aware, how­ever, that you can only receive up to 3 replace­ment Social Secu­rity cards in a cal­en­dar year and that there is a cap of 10 max­i­mum replace­ments that can be issued to you.

Once you have filled out the appli­ca­tion, you sim­ply take it or mail it and your sup­port­ive doc­u­ments to either your local Social Secu­rity office or your local Social Secu­rity Card Cen­ter.

The Social Secu­rity Admin­is­tra­tion can­not take any nota­rized copies or unof­fi­cial doc­u­ments, such as a hos­pi­tal or city birth cer­tifi­cate. You won’t lose the doc­u­ments that you have to send in, how­ever – any­thing you mail in to the SSA will be returned to you along with a receipt. Just plan ahead if that means you need to mail in your driver’s license!

Then It’s Time To Pro­tect Your Identity!

Now that you’ve com­pleted the process to get your card replaced, you need to begin the process of mon­i­tor­ing your iden­tity to make sure that no one plans to com­pro­mise it. The eas­i­est method is to sim­ply sign up for a credit mon­i­tor­ing ser­vice. There are free ones that can take away most of the pres­sure of remem­ber­ing to take care of mon­i­tor­ing your iden­ti­fi­ca­tion items on your own and low cost ones that can mon­i­tor vir­tu­ally everything.

If you’re more the “hands on” type of per­son, then there are plenty of resources avail­able to you as well. The first thing you should do is request your free credit report from your pre­ferred credit report­ing agency. Though you can request one from each agency at the same time, you’re bet­ter off order­ing one report from one agency every 4 months because you’re lim­ited by Fed­eral law to 1 report per agency every 12 months. Some states also offer free reports, how­ever, so be sure to take advan­tage of all the free reports you can get because the more you can mon­i­tor, the more you can pre­vent some­thing bad from happening!

You’ll also want to con­sider putting on a fraud alert or a credit freeze. These can help you to be able to pre­vent an iden­tity thief from ruin­ing your credit because you’re alert­ing lenders that some­one has poten­tially com­pro­mised your iden­tity or even com­pletely lock­ing lenders and your­self out of your credit report.

Finally, you’ll also want to alert your finan­cial insti­tu­tions about what has hap­pened so that sus­pi­cious activ­i­ties, such as requests for new accounts or the clo­sure of any long stand­ing accounts, have another level of ver­i­fi­ca­tion beyond a fraud alert.

Los­ing your Social Secu­rity card can be scary, but the recov­ery process doesn’t have to be when you fol­low these step by step instructions! By tak­ing these steps, you can suc­cess­fully get your Social Secu­rity card replaced and elim­i­nate the threat of iden­tity theft. It only hap­pens, how­ever, when you take proac­tive steps to make sure these tasks happen.  There’s rarely a need for you to carry your social security card on your person, so lock it up in a safe place at home, in the event you happen to lose your wallet again in the future.