Q: I lost my social security card about a month ago. I already have memorized my social security number and don’t really need to carry the card around with me. Should I be worried?
A: If someone steals your Social Security card, or you have misplaced your card and can’t find it, you need to take several steps to protect your identity.
If someone finds your card or uses your Social Security number, you may become the victim of identity theft and fraud, and find it difficult to open accounts, get access to credit or even apply for a job in the future. If you lose your Social Security card, make sure you take the necessary steps to file a complaint and protect your identity.
Risks Associated with Losing Your Social Security Card
Losing a Social Security card can happen to anyone, and it’s important to educate yourself on the risks associated with the situation. These include:
- Having someone open up credit card accounts in your name and charging high purchases on your account
- Enabling someone to have access to your bank accounts
- Making it easier for an identity thief to gain access to your credit report
- Making it difficult to prove your identity or citizenship when leaving the country or traveling
- Dealing with an inaccurate credit report which can take several months to clear up
- Having someone use your Social Security number to obtain employment
Steps to Take When You Lose Your Social Security Card
The USA.gov Social Security Online website recommends that you take the following steps when you have lost your Social Security card:
Step 1: File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You can call 1-877-ID-THEFT or 1-877-438-4338 to file a formal complaint over the phone and learn more about how the FTC is fighting back against identity theft by reading the guides and materials on their website.
Step 2: File a complaint online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). This organization is committed to helping victims of cyber crime and will send the case to a law enforcement or regulatory agency when necessary.
Step 3: Contact the Internal Revenue Service Identity Protection Unit by calling 1-800-908-4490 so that the Social Security number attached to your tax return isn’t being misused.
After you have filed a complaint, it’s also a good idea to monitor your credit report, bank statements and credit card statements to check for suspicious activity. If you see anything suspicious, contact your bank or creditor immediately to authorize a “credit freeze” on your account until you have more information. Read: Should You Get Identity Theft Insurance?
If you don’t feel that your identity has been compromised, you can request a replacement card by completing an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5) and following the instructions from the Social Security Administration here.