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In today’s advanced technological age, stories of identity theft are unfortunately very common. Hackers and cybercriminals use several tactics to infiltrate your computers and private accounts. With the right information, they can engage in identity theft or wreak havoc with your finances. But there’s another, much older method that identity thieves still employ that you don’t hear about much anymore — stealing your social security card. A stolen social security card can mean big problems, but not if you act fast. Here are the steps to take and how to get a replacement SS card.
When you contact the SSA to report your social security card stolen, you’ll need to apply for a replacement. As part of the application process, you’ll need to provide specific documents that prove your identity.
The representative will let you know exactly what documents you need. The documents will also verify your age and citizenship. You can also find a listing of acceptable documents on the SSA website.
Once you have the documents you need and have filled out your application, you must mail them to the SSA. As an alternative, you can also bring them to a local Social Security Administration office if there is one nearby.
Typically, your birth certificate is sufficient to prove your identity. If you don’t have your birth certificate, there are other forms of documentation you can use. These include:
The SSA will only accept original documents. They will not accept photocopies or notarized copies.
When your social security card gets stolen, there is the risk of identity theft. So, in addition to reporting the theft and learning how to get a replacement SS card, there are other actions you must take. The first thing to do is to set up an account at the SSA website with your social security number. You want to do this before the identity thief does, or you’ll have trouble verifying that the SS number actually belongs to you.
Note: The Social Security Administration recommends that you set up an account anyway to prevent such an incident from happening at any time in the future. Setting up an account with the SSA also enables you to perform other useful actions. For instance, you can check social security earnings and print out statements of your benefits.
Experts state that you should always leave your SS card in a safe place. There really is no need to carry it around anymore. Keeping it locked in a safe or somewhere protected will prevent criminals from stealing it.
Identity thieves that obtain your social security card can engage in many criminal activities. Once you know your SS card has been stolen, you’ll need to take action quickly. Contact each of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Ask them to put a credit freeze on your credit reports.
Identity thieves attempt to use your SS number to apply for loans and open accounts. Lenders and financial institutions pull your credit report to do this. Putting a credit freeze on your reports prevents criminals from doing this. It also sends alerts when someone does try to access your credit report. You can also use a credit report monitoring service.
Once you learn how to get a replacement SS card, you’ll be glad to know that it is free. In fact, the SSA will provide up to three replacement Social Security cards annually. The SSA imposes a limit of 10 free replacement cards in your lifetime. Hopefully, you don’t have your SS card stolen that often (or at all).
Once the Social Security Agency receives your documents and application, they will process your request for a replacement. The process takes a few days, and then they will mail you your new card. It usually takes about 10-14 business days for you to receive a replacement SS card. You can speed up the process a bit by applying for a replacement SS card online.
Now that you know how to get a replacement SS card, follow these steps to ensure you never have to. Instead of carrying your social security card around with you, take a picture of it instead. If you keep a picture on a password-protected mobile device, it will be safe. Additionally, make sure that you don’t carry any other cards or documents containing your social security number. For example, a medical ID card might have it. In some cases, a driver’s license ID number might be the same as your SS number. If any of these cards get stolen, the thief will be able to get your SS number.
Be sure to review your Social Security Earnings Statement once a year. You’ll be able to see if there has been any suspicious activity that indicates Social Security fraud. You can review your Social Security Earnings Statement any time once you have made an account on the SSA website. Lastly, you can use an identity theft protection service to protect your private data.