What To Do If Your Social Security Card Is Stolen [Updated]

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Hari Ravichandran

CEO and Founder of Aura

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    Who Has Eyes on Your Social Security Number?

    Everyone wants your Social Security number (SSN) — financial institutions, Medicare, the IRS, and even scammers. As long as SSNs are used as unique identifiers, bad actors will go to great lengths to nab them. 

    The massive SSNDOB Marketplace scheme was yet another unsettling reminder of this. In June 2022, the federal government seized and dismantled a series of websites that sold stolen SSNs on the Dark Web.[*] These websites generated over $19 million in revenue by peddling the information of over 24 million Americans.

    Illicit marketplaces aside, your Social Security card may get lost in a move or stolen from your wallet. In this guide, we’ll share how to protect your Social Security card and what to do in the event of an SSN theft or data breach.

    My Social Security Card Was Stolen! What Should I Do?

    Fast action on your part can mitigate the potential repercussions — like a scammer using your SSN to open new credit or receive a fraudulent tax refund. Here are the immediate steps to take if your Social Security card was recently stolen.

    1. File a report with the police and FTC
    2. Contact the Social Security fraud hotline
    3. Check your credit report
    4. Alert all companies at which your SSN was used fraudulently
    5. Call the IRS (if applicable)
    6. Claim your “my Social Security” profile
    7. Review your Social Security statement
    8. Place an extended fraud alert or credit freeze
    9. Request a replacement card online

    1. File a report with the police and FTC

    Stealing a Social Security card is a crime and should be treated as such. Once you’ve become aware that your Social Security card was stolen, file a report with both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your local police department.

    What does this mean?

    The FTC is an agency of the federal government tasked with the principal mission of consumer protection, from data security to identity theft. In the event that your SSN was stolen or compromised, the FTC will provide you with the appropriate forms and help you create a personal identity recovery plan. 

    After filing with the FTC, use a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report to also file a police report in your local jurisdiction. 

    Though federal agencies are often responsible for investigating identity theft cases, a report with your city or county creates an essential paper trail.

    A list of all allegations received by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) from October 2021 to March 2022. Source: OIG’s Semiannual Report to Congress

    Here’s how you do it:

    Visit the FTC-operated website, IdentityTheft.gov, to report your theft. There, you will have the ability to specify the type of identity theft you’ve suffered. This includes instances of a stolen Social Security card or an exposed SSN. 

    Once you’ve indicated the type of identity theft, the next step is to fill out an identity theft affidavit. Also known as Form 14039, this serves as a full record of the crime. After completing the form, you’ll be assigned a recovery plan.

    With your completed form and recovery plan in hand, take a copy to your local police station. Bring a government-issued photo ID, proof of your address, and any other evidence you have of the theft. Ask for a copy of the police report once finished. 

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

    Take action: A stolen Social Security card could mean that your bank account, email, and other online accounts are at risk. Try Aura’s identity theft protection free for 14 days to secure your identity.

    2. Contact the Social Security fraud hotline

    The federal government, particularly the Social Security Administration (SSA), has zero tolerance for fraud. The SSA works alongside the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to investigate fraud allegations. 

    The OIG then refers cases to U.S. attorneys with the Department of Justice (DOJ) for prosecution. Together, the SSA and OIG operate the Social Security Fraud Hotline to report instances of fraud. 

    What does this mean?

    If you suspect your SSN or Social Security card was stolen, the SSA wants to know. A stolen Social Security card is akin to someone committing fraud, waste, or abuse against the SSA — just as much as it is a personal violation and financial threat to you.

    Here’s how you do it:

    To contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline and alert the OIG of potential fraud, dial 1-800-269-0271. If you’d prefer, you can submit a report online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report/.

    You will be asked to include as much detail about the case as possible, including a description of the fraud, when it took place, and how it was committed. 

    3. Check your credit report

    Your credit report is a dossier of all your personal information — including your name, SSN, and address — along with your credit account history, recent credit inquiries, and public records.

    This information is reported by your lenders and creditors (such as your credit card companies). If your personal information has been stolen, you must check your credit report for recent updates. 

    What does this mean?

    Recent updates to your credit report indicate that some type of financial activity was initiated by you or the individual who stole your SSN.

    For instance, your credit history will list each type of account you opened, the date of opening, the total loan amount, the account balance, and payment history. A quick look at your credit history will reveal if any new accounts were fraudulently opened in your name. 

    Similarly, when you apply for a loan, you authorize the lender to request a copy of your credit report. These requests appear on your credit report as credit inquiries, with the name of the inquirer and the date of the request. Recent inquiries that you have not personally authorized are often evidence of identity theft. 

    Here’s how you do it:

    Request your free credit report by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Once you receive your report, take note of any account or inquiry that you do not recognize.

    Make a record of the name and type of business and the date of the inquiry or account opening. These are useful details to add to your FTC and police reports.

    📚 Related: Loan Fraud Explained: How Scammers Get Free Money In Your Name

    4. Alert all companies at which your SSN was used fraudulently

    In the event that your SSN was used to create fraudulent accounts, you must reach out to each affected company and inform them that you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Your FTC and police report can help build your case. 

    When companies are alerted about the fraudulent activity, they can close the unauthorized accounts for you. Plus, they can flag your name and SSN in their systems to prevent the identity thief from using your information again. 

    Here’s how you do it:

    To alert a company about Social Security fraud, call the fraud department directly or ask to speak with a customer support representative. The company may offer to freeze the account, close it entirely, or change the logins for you. 

    5. Call the IRS (if applicable)

    The U.S. government uses your nine-digit SSN to track your lifetime earnings and issue your Social Security benefits. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses your SSN to corroborate your state and federal taxes owed, as well as your federal tax return. 

    A criminal can use your SSN to either create new identification records or fraudulently file for a tax refund in your name. 

    Contact the IRS if you’re unable to file returns due to an existing unlawful filing. Likewise, call the agency if you receive any documentation in the mail about your SSN usage.

    Here’s how you do it:

    If you believe someone fraudulently used your Social Security Number with the IRS, complete the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039). Fax or mail the form according to the listed instructions. If you receive an IRS notice about suspicious activity, follow the instructions provided in the letter to alert the IRS of the crime. 

    6. Claim your “my Social Security” profile

    Every individual with an SSN is eligible to create a free my Social Security account to update their personal information and request a replacement Social Security card. In the event that your physical Social Security card is stolen, claim your SSA profile immediately.

    Here’s how you do it:

    Visit the SSA website to create your own my Social Security profile or get started here. Pair your email address with a unique, never-before-used password for ultimate protection against future identity theft. 

    7. Review your Social Security statement

    Your Social Security Statement is a summary of your earnings and Social Security and Medicare taxes. Criminals who assume your identity with your SSN can indirectly alter your Social Security Statement, especially if they commit tax fraud.

    A sample online Social Security Statement. Source: SSA

    What does this mean?

    Your Social Security Statement explains what you can anticipate in Social Security benefits when you reach full retirement age. It’s based on your earnings, which are reported by you and your employers. 

    Your earnings are recorded by the SSA throughout your lifetime and are updated each time you or your employers re-report them. 

    However, your Social Security Statement is only as accurate as your earnings. A criminal who steals your SSN and creates fraudulent identification records or commits tax fraud will drastically alter your earnings. It’s important to review your statement to flag any unfamiliar activity. 

    Here’s how you do it:

    To review your Social Security Statement along with the earnings that could signal fraudulent activity, first log into your personal my Social Security account. To access your statement, visit the designated tab: www.ssa.gov/myaccount/statement.html. Report any inconsistencies to the SSA immediately. 

    📚 Related: How To Identify Medicare Scam Calls: Avoid These 7 Scams

    8. Place an extended fraud alert or credit freeze

    If someone recently stole your Social Security number, extended fraud alerts and credit freezes can serve as some much-needed relief while you recover your identity. Both can help prevent further unlawful activity with your SSN, though there are distinct differences between the two. 

    What does this mean?

    An extended fraud alert is a notification that will appear on your credit report for seven years. It will notify creditors and lenders to verify your identity before attempting to process credit or loan applications made in your name. 

    This type of fraud alert is free to place (and remove) and is designed to protect identity theft victims from future fraud. 

    A credit freeze halts all access to your credit report unless you lift or remove it. Unlike an extended fraud alert, which lasts for seven years, a credit freeze can remain in place until you feel comfortable removing it. Credit freezes are free and available to anyone, not just fraud victims.

    Here’s how you do it:

    To set either an extended fraud alert or a credit freeze, you will need to contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). For an extended fraud alert, you may need to submit a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report or police report with your request.

    9. Request a replacement card online

    After having your original Social Security card stolen, you may want to replace it with a new physical card. Fortunately, if you’ve already claimed your my Social Security account, it’s relatively simple to request a new card through the mail. 

    What does this mean?

    If you are over the age of 18 and have a proper mailing address, your my Social Security account is the easiest way to apply for a replacement card. 

    However, you must also have a driver’s license or a state-issued identification card to prove your identity. So long as you meet these minimum requirements, requesting a replacement card is completely free. 

    Here’s how you do it:

    Log into your my Social Security account and select “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.

    📚 Related: How To Replace a Child’s Social Security Card

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

    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.

    📚 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.

    In particular, you will need to supply evidence that your SSN was used for fraudulent transactions, that you have suffered ongoing financial harm, and that you have 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. 

    Can You Put a Freeze on Your Social Security Number?

    If requesting a new SSN seems drastic, but you’re fearful someone has stolen your current information, you may choose to put a freeze on your SSN. Also known as “locking” your SSN, putting a freeze on your number means that no one can use it — not even you.

    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. 

    How Can I Check To See If Someone Is Using My 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 11 tactics to determine if someone is fraudulently using your SSN. 

    You notice 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.

    Table showing stats on credit card-related identity theft
    Source: FTC

    Unfamiliar charges on your credit card or bank statement

    New credit cards or loan amounts aren’t the only signs of identity theft. There were 32,204 reports of credit card fraud on existing accounts in 2021 alone. Unfamiliar charges on your credit card or bank statement are clear indicators that you are a victim of a bank scam. 

    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. 

    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

    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.

    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.

    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 in 2021. 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.

    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. 

    Strange inquiries or loans on your credit report

    There were a whopping 105,711 reports of people taking out fraudulent personal or business loans in 2021. 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. 

    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.

    Take action: Protect yourself from the risks of identity theft and fraud with Aura’s $1,000,000 identity theft insurance. Try Aura free for 14 days and see if it’s right for you.

    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 financial fraud with Aura. Sign up today to get 14 days free

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    1. Financial identity theft and fraud
    2. Medical identity theft
    3. Child identity theft
    4. Elder fraud and estate identity theft
    5. “Friendly” or familial identity theft
    6. Employment identity theft
    7. Criminal identity theft
    8. Tax identity theft
    9. Unemployment and government benefits identity theft
    10. Synthetic identity theft
    11. Identity cloning
    12. Account takeovers (social media, email, etc.)
    13. Social Security number identity theft
    14. Biometric ID theft
    15. Crypto account takeovers