What Is Social Security?
Social Security is America’s foundation of economic security for the millions of residents residing in the country including disabled persons, retirees, deceased or disabled workers, and families of retired. It is by large a pay-as-you-go program, which means that people working pay Social Security taxes and the money flows back as income to their beneficiaries on a monthly basis. Because of its pay-as-you-go nature, Social Security differs from pensions, which are basically ‘pre-funded.’
When one applies for Social Security, they are given a Social Security number which is a 9-digit number issued to citizens, temporary working residents, and permanent residents. While the number is primarily used to track individuals for Social Security purposes, it has become the de facto national ID number for taxation and other purposes. The number may be acquired by filling out Form SS-5, which is the application form to get a new Social Security Card.
Lost or Stolen Social Security Number Card?
If you have lost your social security card, it is vital that you replace it as soon as possible. Knowing how to replace one is important as doing so will help you protect yourself from things like identity theft. When it comes to replacing a lost or damaged Social Security Card, it is worth noting that you can have it replaced three times in a year and ten times in your lifetime, past that point, Social Security Administration will get strict and will probably not issue another card unless you have valid reasons.
The great thing is that you can apply for your Social Security Card online with just your driver’s license in 25 states. In these states, your state ID or license is all you will need to verify your identity for the issuance of a new card. In other states, your passport will do.
While it is a good thing to have the card stored in a safe place, it is the number that really matters. As such, it is not advisable to carry the card around as it is designed to circumvent counterfeiting; but it is not indestructible. In most cases, you can use a printout or photocopy of the card where you are required to show proof. Legally speaking, even your employer has no right to demand you to give them the original.
How Thieves Can Profit From Stealing Your Social Security Card
Fraud artists can manipulate lost or stolen social security cards in many ways, most of which may lead to you taking major financial hits. For instance, they could use your card to:
- Open new payment cards – they could buy or steal your Social Security Number and use the information to open up new payment card accounts using your name.
- Break into your financial accounts through mobile phone theft – they could use your number to perform fraudulent digital transactions with hijacked or stolen mobile phones. With the number, they could break into your mobile phone accounts and steal all your one-time passwords which could enable them to break into your credit card, bank, and the likes.
- File fraudulent IRS tax returns – they could use your social security number to file bogus tax returns, generating hefty tax compensations all under your name and without your knowledge. Understanding how to replace a Social Security Card is vital given the potential costs a stolen or lost one presents.
Requesting Replacement of A Social Security Card
As earlier mentioned, you can easily request a new card or replace a stolen or lost Social Security card by visiting the Social Security website. Alternatively, you could visit their offices or give them a call.
The great thing is that the process is pretty straightforward and is quick. Usually, it will take about 2-weeks from the time you report the loss of your card to getting a new one, and the awesome thing is that replace a stolen or lost Social Security card is absolutely free.
When it comes to the replacement of a Social Security card, the Social Security Administration requires that you follow three basic steps:
- Understand the documents needed
- Fill out and print your application
- Email or take the application to them
If you opt to visit the local Social Security office, you will be required to bring identification, and more specifically, your driver’s license, U.S passport, or a state-issued non-driver ID card. Alternatively, you could visit www.ssa.gov.ssnumber/, the official Social Security website and fill out a “Replacement or New Social Security Number and Card” application. The application can also be downloaded and printed.
Remember that Social Security requires that all the documents submitted to replace lost or stolen Social Security cards must either be copies certified by the agency that issued them or originals. The agency does not accept notarized copies or photocopies of documents.
In some instances, you could apply for a Social Security card replacement online if you have a My Social Security Account already set up. However, this option is only available to residents of 8 states, which include Florida, Texas, and California.
For those born outside of the US and didn’t provide proof of citizenship when they got the card, the process of replacing the card is different. In such a case, they will have to prove their identity and citizenship. For non-citizens, they should be ready to produce documentation of their current lawful non-citizen status.
Preventative Measures To Take After Losing Your Social Security Card
Replacing a social security card is just a part of the process. There are things that you should consider doing to keep your Social Security number and identity safe.
– Place a fraud alert. You can do so by calling a credit-reporting agency like TransUnion or Experian and placing an alert on your credit file to guard yourself against identity theft.
– Review credit reports and financial accounts. Review all your credit reports and screen credit card statements for unauthorized activities and report inaccurate or fraudulent information to creditors.
– Report the stolen card to the Internal Revenue Service. If your card is stolen, then make sure that you report the loss to the IRS. Doing so may prevent fraudsters from filing tax returns in your name.
– File a report with Federal Trade Commission. To add an extra layer of protection against identity fraud, make sure that you also report the matter to the FTC which collects all complaints regarding identity theft.
– File a police report. Just to be safe, you could also report your lost or stolen Social Security Card to the local police. Just remember to take with you the relevant paperwork, and that includes a copy of your Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Affidavit and proof of theft. You’ll be required to write out an incident report and don’t forget to ask for a copy.
Stealth counts when it comes to replacing a lost or stolen Social Security card. Remember, set matters straight as soon as possible – protect your credit, notify the relevant agencies and keep identity fraudsters at bay by acquiring a new Social Security Card as soon as you can.