What to Do if Your Social Security Number is Lost or Stolen

April 2011

One of the most important forms of identification in America is your social security number. Your social security number is used to open bank accounts, credit card accounts, and in some cases, to take out bank loans. If you lose your social security card, or if your card or number is stolen, you must take action to protect your identity and your credit.

If Your Social Security Card is Lost

If you have lost your social security card, there are a number of steps that need to be taken. You need to apply for a replacement social security card so that, when necessary, you can prove who you are. Your new social security card will have the same number as your old one did. Since it’s not a document that’s frequently referenced, store it in a safe place rather than carry it with you.

Check your credit report to make sure no one has found your lost card and is using your identity to open fraudulent accounts. If there is anything on your credit report you did not authorize or apply for, file a fraud alert report immediately to prevent the credit thief from using your identity for anything else. If there is nothing suspicious on your credit report, it is still a good idea to file an initial fraud alert, or sign up for an identity monitoring service such as myID.com, to keep anyone who might have found your social security card from using your identity.

If Your Social Security Card is Stolen

If your social security card was been stolen, rather than lost, this should be treated more seriously. As soon as you discover your social security card has been stolen, file a fraud alert with one of the three credit report companies. If any other items such as credit cards, your driver’s license, or personal checks have been stolen as well, file a police report so they can track the use of any of your credit cards or checks, which can help lead them to the thief. A police report is also important for you to have if you need to prove that certain account activity made under your name was fraudulent.

Someone in possession of your social security card has the power to harm your credit. Therefore, it’s critical to take immediate action if your social security card is lost or stolen. By taking the proper precautions, you minimize the chance of your social security number being used for fraudulent and personally harmful purposes.