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Stolen Social Security Card? Here’s What To Do

As long as SSNs are used as unique identifiers, scammers will target them. Learn what to do if your Social Security card is stolen or missing.

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      Was Your Social Security Card Stolen? Act Quickly

      In 2023, most cybersecurity experts agree that pretty much every Social Security number (SSN) has been leaked to the Dark Web in a recent data breach [*]. In just the last few months,

      Massive data breaches at both PayPal and T-Mobile compromised the SSNs of more than 37 million Americans.

      But while being the victim of a data breach doesn’t necessarily put you in immediate danger of SSN fraud, a stolen Social Security card does.

      If criminals steal or find your Social Security card, it means you’re a target — and you need to act quickly.

      Scammers can use your stolen SSN to steal your identity, open new accounts or take out loans in your name, receive a fraudulent tax refund, or worse.

      In this guide, we’ll explain what to do if your Social Security card is missing or stolen, how to tell if someone is using your SSN, and what you can do to protect yourself from scammers and criminals in the future.


      What To Do If Your Social Security Card Is Stolen or Missing

      Securing your identity and finances after losing your Social Security card is a long and ongoing process. But a few quick actions can minimize the damage scammers are able to do to your credit, identity, and reputation.

      Here are the steps you should take immediately to protect yourself from the worst consequences of SSN theft:

      • Report your stolen Social Security card (or number) to the Social Security Administration. You can do this online at or by calling the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.  
      • Sign up for or log into your my Social Security account to order a replacement card and check your Social Security Statement for any incorrect information, earnings you don’t recognize, or other signs of fraud. To access your statement, visit the designated tab: Report any inconsistencies to the SSA immediately.
      • Freeze your credit with all three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to stop scammers from opening new accounts in your name. You can also request a fraud alert on your account to warn potential lenders that your SSN was compromised. Here’s more information about the difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert.
      • You’ll get a free credit report when you freeze your credit file. Check this for signs of fraud or accounts you don’t recognize. You can also check your credit history by requesting a free copy of your credit report at or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
      • Review your financial accounts and contact your bank and other financial institutions (such as lenders) to warn them that you may be the victim of identity theft. They may close your accounts and issue you new account numbers and cards.
      • Inform the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that your card was stolen. Fraudsters could use your SSN to file a fake tax return. If you believe someone fraudulently used your Social Security Number with the IRS, complete the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039).
      • File a report with the Federal Trade Commission to protect yourself in the case you become a victim of identity theft. Filing an FTC ID theft affidavit is an essential step and can easily be completed online at In some cases, you may also want to file a police report with your local law enforcement.
      • Lock your SSN using the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) E-Verify website to stop criminals from using your SSN to apply for jobs.
      • Contact any company, agency, or financial institution where your SSN was fraudulently used. You’ll need to provide your FTC report and any other supporting documents to dispute charges and close fraudulent accounts.
      • Update your online passwords and follow best practices for cyber hygiene. A stolen SSN can mean you’re at risk of other types of identity theft and fraud. Make sure your online accounts are secure — especially your bank and email.
      • Continue to monitor your credit, bank accounts, and online accounts for suspicious activity and signs of identity theft.
      Take action: A stolen Social Security card could mean that your bank account, email, and other online accounts are at risk. Try Aura’s award-wining identity theft protection, credit monitoring, and digital security solution free for 14 days to secure your identity.

      How To Order a Replacement Social Security Card

      After having your original Social Security card stolen, you may want to replace it with a new physical card.

      If you’re over the age of 18 and have a proper mailing address (and aren't requesting a name change or other changes to your card), your my Social Security account is the easiest way to apply for a replacement card.

      So long as you meet these minimum requirements, requesting a replacement card is completely free.

      Here’s how you do it:

      • Gather your documents. You’ll need a driver’s license or a state-issued identification card to prove your identity and age. If you’re a foreign-born citizen, you may also need to bring a U.S. birth certificate, passport, or other documents to prove your citizenship. Here’s a list of documents the SSA accepts.
      • Request a new card online by logging into your my Social Security account and selecting “Replace your Social Security Card.” You will be asked a few screening questions, such as your age, to confirm eligibility.
      • Next, enter your personal information, including your SSN, date of birth, and current address to receive your replacement card in the mail.
      • You can also request a new card by filling out and printing your application and then visiting your local SSA office. Here’s an online tool to help you find the Social Security office nearest to you.

      Note: You can’t create a my Social Security account if you currently have a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit reports. You’ll have to lift those first.

      📚 Related: Did You Accidentally Give Your SSN To a Scammer? Here's What To Do

      How Long Will It Take To Receive a New Social Security Card?

      The time it takes for the SSA to process consumer requests varies depending on whether the request was for a new Social Security card, a SSN, or if there’s any additional documentation necessary to verify your legal status.

      For a replacement Social Security card:

      If your Social Security card was lost or stolen, you can receive a replacement card in the mail within 10 to 14 business days of filing the request with the SSA.

      For a new Social Security number:

      If you’ve applied to change your SSN, you will need to prove your identity to the administration and provide evidence that your identity was stolen (and that you’ve exhausted all other means to recover your identity).

      The process to provide such information to the SSA can take anywhere from three business days to three weeks depending on the severity of the fraud. Once the process has been approved, you will receive a card with your new SSN within 10 to 14 business days.

      For additional information to verify legal status:

      If you were not assigned an SSN at birth and received one upon immigrating to the United States, the SSA may need to verify your legal status before issuing a replacement card or new SSN. To do so, they will file a request with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

      The SSA typically issues a new Social Security card within two days of receiving the verification from USCIS, which can then take an additional 10 to 14 business days to arrive in the mail.

      📚 Related: What Can Someone Do With Your Social Security Number?

      Can I Get a New SSN If My Card Was Stolen?

      Yes, you can change your SSN if your card was stolen — but you may want to think twice about doing so.

      In many situations, it’s more beneficial for victims of identity theft to work with the FTC to recover their identity than start completely afresh with a new number.

      This is because all government agencies — like the IRS and Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) — will file your records under your previous SSN.

      The same is true for banks and credit reporting companies. Your original SSN is never destroyed; it’s often cross-referenced with your new one.

      However, receiving a new SSN is essentially like starting your credit from scratch. Without your old credit history (even including the identity theft) you will have no way to prove your financial reliability. The absence of a credit history can make it difficult to receive future credit.

      Lastly, you cannot receive a new SSN, even if your Social Security card was lost or stolen, if there is no evidence that someone is using your personal information. Without evidence of criminal activity, you will need to maintain your current SSN.

      Can You Put a Freeze on Your Social Security Number?

      If requesting a new SSN seems drastic, you may choose to put a freeze on your SSN.

      Once frozen, your SSN can no longer be used to apply for credit, open new accounts, or for employment-related purposes. Even attempting to use the SSN will trigger a “Notice of tentative non-confirmation,” which signals to the user that the number is currently not in use.

      A freeze on your Social Security number will last for a year, and you will be notified beforehand so that you can renew it. However, you can take steps to reverse the freeze at any time. To implement a freeze on your Social Security number, follow these simple steps.

      • Create a government-based myE-Verify account.
      • Access the Self Lock tab.
      • Enter your SSN and date of birth.
      • Take a short quiz to explain why you are freezing the account.
      • Set up three security questions to verify your identity when you wish to unfreeze the account.

      📚 Related: What To Do If Someone Has Your SSN

      How To Check If Someone Is Using Your SSN

      If you discover your Social Security card is missing or stolen, there are quite a few ways to monitor your SSN for suspicious activity.

      Here are 10 tactics to determine if someone is fraudulently using your SSN.

      1. Look for early signs of identity theft

      There are several tell-tale signs of identity theft, namely new credit or lender inquiries on your credit report. In 2021 alone, the FTC reported 363,092 cases of cybercriminals and scammers fraudulently opening new credit cards — which alerted consumers that their identities were stolen [*].

      2. Unfamiliar charges on your credit card or bank statement

      New credit cards or loan amounts aren’t the only signs of identity theft. Last year, there were 32,204 reports of credit card fraud on existing accounts. Unfamiliar charges on your credit card or bank statement are clear indicators that your SSN has been used for a bank scam.

      3. A drastic change in your credit score

      Your credit score is a reflection of your current credit lines, payment history, and incoming credit inquiries. If your credit score plummets 20 points or more, immediately review your credit report and Social Security Statement to check for fraudulent activity.

      4. Calls from debt collectors you don’t recognize

      With your financial information at their disposal, it’s very common for identity thieves to rack up an impressive amount of debt. When debt collectors that you don’t recognize begin to call you or send letters to your home, it’s important to review your current credit report.

      📚 Related: Is Home Title Theft Real? The Truth About Home Title Monitoring

      5. Unfamiliar medical bills

      With more than 42,700 medical service identity thefts reported by the FTC in 2021, unfamiliar medical bills are red flags indicating that someone may be using your SSN for personal care. Keep a copy of all medical bills to use in your FTC and police reports.

      6. Missing or inaccurate tax refunds

      You and only you can file a federal tax refund using your SSN. If your refund goes missing, or worse — if you receive a letter that your annual refund has already been filed without your knowledge, contact the IRS immediately.

      7. There’s a warrant out for your arrest

      More than 15,000 criminals used synthetic identities or forged driver’s licenses, passports, and other government documents last year. When these criminals are caught by the police, they often give law enforcement the name of an individual whose identity they stole. If there’s a warrant out for your arrest and you’re innocent of the charges, someone may have stolen your SSN.

      8. Social Security Statement shows suspicious activity

      You, your employer, and the SSA share a responsibility to maintain an accurate Social Security Statement. If there’s suspicious activity on your statement, contact the SSA and alert your employer to learn more.

      📚 Related: How To Protect Your SSN From Scammers

      9. Strange inquiries or loans on your credit report

      When a strange inquiry or loan appears on your credit report, do not hesitate to report it to your credit bureau as well as the FTC.

      10. Someone took out benefits in your name

      Aside from a massive number of fraudulent loans, there were 385,264 reports of government benefits applied for or received in 2021, an astounding 178% increase from 2019. If someone has taken out benefits in your name, contact the SSA and FTC as soon as possible.

      Your Social Security Number Is Not Secure. Aura Can Help

      SSNs were originally created to track contributions to your retirement fund. Over time, though, they became the single most important identifier for a U.S. citizen.

      This means that scammers will always have an unabated motive to steal your SSN: to file tax returns, obtain credit, or open bank accounts to fleece you.

      To protect your SSN and prevent identity theft, follow these five steps:

      • Use alternate identification instead of your SSN. Most businesses accept your driver's license, U.S. passport, or even a utility bill as proof of identity.
      • Safeguard your physical Social Security card. Try to memorize your SSN and leave the card at home. Also, never use your SSN as a password for online accounts.
      • Shred financial documents that you no longer need. Also, avoid leaving your mailbox unattended for an extended period. If you’re going to be away, set up a mail-forwarding service.
      • Never give out your SSN over the phone or via email. The same applies to your family members' SSNs. Don't reveal your SSN to anyone unless you are certain they have a valid reason to have it (and a right to ask). To avoid scam calls, learn how and when the SSA may contact you.
      • Use credit and identity monitoring to keep track of your most important documents and accounts. You can set up a credit monitoring service like Aura to always keep a watchful eye on your credit scores and bank accounts.
      Take action against fraud with Aura. Sign up for your free 14-day trial today →
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