What to Do if I Lost My Social Security Card

Posted by Elliot Marks

In the digital landscape of today’s world, losing your physical Social Security card may not seem like a big deal. However, since your card has your Social Security Number on it, it can be a big deal. Keeping your Social Security card in your purse or wallet can increase the chances of it getting lost or stolen, so it’s always wise to keep it locked away in a safe place. If you do lose your Social Security card, there are steps you need to take to avoid any problems and to get a new card.

If you lose your card, you want to act fast. You should see if you have claimed your “My SSA” profile on the Social Security website. This will allow you to ask for a replacement card. On this section of the website, you can also check the accuracy of your earnings, print benefit statements, and update your address. You will have to contact the Social Security Administration in order to report the lost card and replace it. However, note that the agency does have a list of things that need to be completed before they can accept the request for a new card.

Getting a Replacement Social Security Card

If you need a replacement card, you may be able to request one online if you meet certain requirements. If you don’t meet these requirements, then you will need to provide documentation and complete an application.

Losing a Social Security Card

The documents you need for a replacement card are required to verify your citizenship, identity, and age. In order to prove citizenship, you need a U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate. To verify your age, you also need a birth certificate if one exists. If one doesn’t exist, it’s possible to use some other records, such as a hospital record of your birth or a religious record that was made before the age of five that shows your birth date. To verify your identity, you need current and not expired documents that show the name, age, or birth date and a recent photograph. Some examples you can use for this include a driver's license, state issued identification card, or U.S. passport.

If you can’t have these documents or can’t get them, then other documents can be used that meet the requirement, such as an employee identification card or military identification card. While some documents can be used for more than one purpose, such as a U.S. passport being used to show identity and citizenship, you will still need to produce at least two separate documents in order to get a replacement card. Once you have the documents and filled out the application, you have to either mail in the documents or take them to the nearest Social Security Administration office.

There are exceptions to this, such as getting or replacing a social security card for foreign-born citizens or non-citizens. For more information, see our guide about how to replace a social security card. Note that you don’t have to pay for a replacement card unless you keep losing them. You can get three replacement cards yearly and 10 free cards in a lifetime.

Steps to Avoid Identity Theft

It's important to protect your social security card once you have it! One of the problems that comes with losing your card is you could be at greater risk of identity theft and social security related scams. While you can get your card replaced, you can't change the number, so your number is now out there for potential thieves. You will want to closely monitor your accounts and enroll in an identity protection service. You will want to place a fraud alert on your credit.

Security for a Social Security Card

You can also call one of the three major credit bureaus to explain what happened to your card. If you call one, a note will also be placed with the other two. Every 90 days you will have keep renewing the fraud alert until you are sure that you are in the clear. This could last up to several years. Report the loss to the Internal Revenue Service in order to prevent thieves from filing a tax return in your name and getting your refund check. Also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. You could also report it to the local police. By filing an identity theft report, you will be a victim instead of a criminal if someone uses your Social Security Number to commit a crime.

Always monitor your credit reports and accounts. If you do notice any unusual activity, then immediately report it. You will need to provide strong evidence to the SSA of fraud on the account in order to receive a new number. If you are using an identity protection service, they can help. Even if you get a new SSN, your old one is still out there and you will need to continue to monitor it. A new number will mean that you have no prior credit, which makes getting loans difficult. Many times the SSA will not give out a new number if the fraud is not warranted.

Elliot Marks

Elliot Marks

Author & Social Security Advisor

Elliot Marks has spent over 10 years providing clear and concise information to help Americans navigate the complex nuances of social security and many other government services in the United States. Elliot has a passion for helping those in need of these services to be able to find timely access to news and information that is relevant and helpful to their daily lives.