If you’ve lost your Social Security card or maybe even had your Social Security number stolen, this is a very serious issue, because it could make you a victim of identity theft.
The Federal Trade Commission says that identity theft strikes about 10 million Americans every single year. And the risks of identity theft are huge.
If somebody has your Social Security card, they can do all kinds of things. They can try to get a job, believe it or not, and secure employment in your name. They could try to get a tax refund check and maybe file taxes using your Social Security number, ultimately even taking away a refund check that might be due to you.
An identity thief could also use your Social Security number to do unauthorized financial transactions, like taking on credit accounts, loans, or mortgages. They might even be able to tap into your own bank accounts by knowing your Social Security information.
So you definitely want to shut that problem down as quickly as possible once you find out that someone has your Social Security card, or once you’ve discovered that you’ve lost your Social Security card.
Notify the Police
So what should you do? For starters, notify the authorities.
If there’s been any kind of theft involved, if someone stole your wallet, or if someone took away your Social Security card along with your credit cards and other information, do notify the local police.
You want to file a record of what’s happened, because you’ll need to next go to the credit bureaus as well to tell them if you’ve been victimized by identity theft. They, too, will want to know have you registered any kind of a complaint.
Alert the Credit Bureaus
If you find that someone has, in fact, used your Social Security number to open unauthorized accounts, you should put either a credit freeze or a fraud alert on each of your credit files. Those three files are maintained by the big three credit bureaus. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Another agency you should notify is the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC.gov. The FTC has a toll‑free number, 877‑ID‑THEFT, that you can report crimes like identity theft or the misappropriation or the theft of your Social Security number.
Contact the IRS
If you’ve lost a Social Security card you also want to make sure that you notify the IRS. The IRS has a division called the Identity Protection Unit. You want to contact them because you don’t want anybody to file taxes using your Social Security number. So you need to alert the IRS that your Social Security number might have been misappropriated.
You can go online to the IRS at IRS.gov to locate the Identity Protection Unit. That IRS unit also has a toll‑free number. It’s 800‑908‑4490. So you would definitely need to reach out to them if someone has stolen your Social Security card.
Get that taken care of ASAP. As I said, identity theft is a major problem. But you don’t have to be victimized by it if you take some very common sense and safe precautions. I talk about those preventive steps as well as other ways to protect your financial identity here on AskTheMoneyCoach.com.