Although it’s widely known you shouldn’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet, some people still continue to tote this little blue card around. Here’s a not-so-gentle warning: stop it right now or your identity could be stolen and your life ruined for months–or even years–to come.
If you lose your Social Security card, your first instinct is probably to try to get your number changed. However, it’s important to be aware of two things:
You won’t automatically get a new number. Unless you can prove someone is using your number, you’re out of luck.
Obtaining a new number could bring trouble. If the Social Security Administration is able to provide a new number, you might think that’s great. Unfortunately, your life might get a lot more complicated. This is because a new number could introduce a host of problems. First of all, if your old credit information is not linked to your new number, the lack of credit history under your new number might make it very difficult to secure more credit. Most lenders want to see your previous payment history before approving a loan or granting credit.
After you’ve discovered the loss or theft of your card:
- Apply for a free replacement card by contacting the Social Security Administration and requesting form SS-5. You can also download this form directly from their website.
- Immediately get in touch with one of the three credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Request a fraud alert to be placed on your account. Also, order a recent copy of your report and review it carefully.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if you believe someone is using your number to apply for credit.
After you get your replacement card, make sure to put it in a safe place, and stop carrying your card in your wallet! Make an effort to memorize your number. Visit the Social Security Administration’s website for more information.