report lost social security card

7 things to do if I lost my Social Security card

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During the coronavirus lockdown, local Social Security offices have reduced hours and are only helping people with their most crucial issues. Generally speaking, getting a replacement card is not considered a crucial issue. So, if you have a lost Social Security card, it’s best to wait until the agency is up and running as usual to apply.

The fact is, as important identification documents go, the Social Security card gets little attention. You’re not supposed to laminate it or carry it in your wallet, but those may be the most notable things about a Social Security card as a form of identification. Unlike a Passport or driver license, you rarely need to produce the card itself; just knowing the number is enough for people to find you in many systems. Employers sometimes ask new employees to provide a copy of the card, but it’s seldom necessary. Keep in mind, you can only apply for a replacement card three times a year or 10 times in a lifetime. But if do lose your card and want to get a replacement — or if you think it might be being used by someone else — here are some steps you should take:

1. Qualify for Social Security card replacement

To be eligible for a replacement card you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen age 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address (for military personnel, this includes APO, FPO, and DPO addresses)
  • Request a replacement card with no changes to your name or any other information
  • Have a driver license or state-issued identification card.
 

2. Apply for lost Social Security card online

In many states, you can apply for a new card online at no cost using your My Social Security account. If you don’t have an account, you can create one here.

3. Download and print an application

There are several exceptions to being able to get a replacement card online. In Delaware and Wisconsin you must have a driver license, not just a state identification. And if your state ID was issued by Alabama, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon or West Virginia, the service is not yet available. It’s also not available if your driver license or identification card was issued by a U.S. territory (such as American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands). If you can’t get your card online, you can do so by mail. Gather the documents you need; fill out and print an applicationdeliver or mail the application to the Social Security office. You can find your local Social Security office here:

DID YOU KNOW?

You can only apply for a replacement card three times a year or 10 times in a lifetime.

4. Collect your Documents

The SSA has a very specific set of original or certified copies it accepts and also lists documents that will not suffice for identification. You will need to include documentation of U.S. citizenship such as a U.S. passport or birth certificate. They also need documents to establish your identity including unexpired driver’s license, state issued ID or passport. They must have your name, date of birth or age and preferably a recent photograph.

If you do not have one of these specific documents or you cannot get a replacement for one of them within 10 days, they will ask to see other documents.

Since you must provide original documentation you may not want to mail the application in. One alternative is to get copies certified by the issuing agency—not photocopies or notarized copies. If you are filing an application on behalf of someone else, you must produce evidence of your relationship to, or responsibility for, that person. You must also show proof of your identity.

5. Do not pay for a replacement

You do not need to pay anyone to get a new Social Security card. Though there are businesses online selling the service of helping you get your card, representatives at Social Security will help you for free.

6. Thwart identity thieves

Sometimes the concern about losing your card is that someone else got it—say if your wallet was lost or stolen—and is using it for identity theft. This might mean they would use your Social Security number to get money due to you. Or they could conduct transactions that will show up on your credit report or in a criminal record.

If you think your card has been stolen, you should contact your local police department and apply for a replacement card to notify the Social Security administration that yours is missing. You do not need to assume it will be used for identity theft. But if you see any indication that that has happened—such as a number of sudden unexplained charges to your bank account, having a Social Security payment fail to show up, or being contacted about jobs or loans you haven’t applied for, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft

DID YOU KNOW?

You do not need to pay anyone to get a new Social Security card.

Or you can call, toll free, at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338). Note that it’s the FTC, not the SSA that handles inquiries about identity theft.

7. Leave your new card at home

To protect yourself, since you don’t need your Social Security card itself for most transactions that rely on your Social Security number, you might be wise to keep it in a safe place at home, rather than in your wallet. Your Social Security account is designed to keep you safe and keep track of all your contributions so you may draw on the funds you’ve put in when you need them. It’s a small paper card, but it can make a big difference in your future.

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