How to replace a
Social Security Card in California
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Knowing how to replace a Social Security card in California is critical. Whether you misplace your Social Security card or it’s stolen, you’ll take many of the same measures to request a replacement card and to shield yourself from identity theft.
Below you’ll find detailed steps to replace a Social Security card. You’ll also learn more about the risks of a lost card and how to reduce them.
How to request a replacement California Social Security card
Now that you realize just how important securing a replacement Social Security card is, it’s time to get yours today! Just follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1 - Complete your SS-5 Application
The initial step in applying for a replacement or a new social security card in California is completing the required SS-5 Application form. This can be accomplished online by simply providing basic information like name, date of birth, address, etc.
Step 2 - Collect all the necessary documents for the social security application
Establish what documents you need to apply for your new Social Security Card. The specific documents needed will depend on various components such as:
- Applicants Age
- Application Type (New, Replacement, Update)
- Citizenship Status
For instance, a U.S. Born Citizen adult in California who wants to replace his Social Security Card won’t have the same required documents that a Non-Citizen child who needs an original one.
Note: All documents presented need to be originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. Photocopies or notarized copies of documents won’t be accepted.
Step 3 - Submit your application to your Social Security Office
After completing an SS-5 and collecting your required documents you’ll need to present them to your local Social Security Administration Office. This can be accomplished by either: Delivering documents in person or by sending documents via mail. The good news is, the process is simple and usually very fast. It generally takes approximately two weeks between the time you report the loss to have a new California Social Security card in your possession. And as icing on the cake, replacing a lost or stolen California Social Security card is free. For a straightforward application process for the steps highlighted above click here.
Note: If you are doing this application on behalf of another person, you will have to demonstrate your relationship to this individual. You can replace a lost or stolen Social Security card by beginning with a visit online, a trip to a California Social Security office or a phone call.
If you go to your local California Social Security office, you’ll need to bring identification — notably:
- A U.S. driver’s license
- A state-issued non-driver identification card, or
- A U.S. Passport
Bear in mind the Social Security Administration mandates that all documents presented to replace a stolen or lost Social Security card “must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency.” The agency “cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.”
Getting a replacement California Social Security card is only part of the equation. Here are other steps we recommend taking when your Social Security card has been lost or stolen.
Establish a fraud alert – You should place a fraud alert on your credit file to prevent identity theft.
“You can do this easily by calling one of the three major credit-reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion),” says Danielle Kunkle, vice president at Boomer Benefits, in Fort Worth, Texas. Once you request a fraud alert, the credit reporting agency is required to reach out to the other two agencies to inform them as well.
Here’s the contact info for each agency.
Equifax: (800) 525-6285
Experian: (888) 397-3742
TransUnion: (800) 680-7289
A fraud alert offers numerous benefits.
As Natasha Campbell, financial educator and money coach at Wealth Style List, says, “This is the easiest way to monitor your credit after losing your Social Security card,” “These companies will contact you by phone to verify when credit is opened under your name. Plus, you can renew the alert every 90 days until you are confident that the situation is resolved.”
Review your financial accounts and credit reports
Track your credit card statements for dubious activity and review your credit reports. “You are given one free credit report (from each agency) each year,” Campbell says — and you can get it at AnnualCreditReport.com. “Carefully review your report for any activity you did not authorize and report any fraudulent or inaccurate information to creditors.”
Report your stolen card to the IRS
If your Social Security card is stolen, you should also contact the Internal Revenue Service. This can prohibit thieves from filing a tax return in your name. The IRS has a helpful website page on the topic, “Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection, and Victim Assistance,” that outlines the reporting process.
File a report with the FTC
To enhance identity theft protection, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission, Campbell says. “The FTC collects complaints about identity theft from those whose identities have been stolen,” she states.
Call the FTC at 1-877-438-4338.
File a police report
You may also report the stolen or lost Social Security card to your local California police department. When you visit your local police station, bring the appropriate paperwork, containing a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit and any other proof of the theft. Fill out a report about the occurrence and ask the police for a copy. Promptness matters when your California Social Security card is lost or stolen. Correct matters by notifying the necessary agencies, protecting your credit, and keeping I.D. thieves at bay by acquiring a new Social Security card as quickly as possible.
How can thieves profit from stealing my Social Security card?
Identity thieves can exploit a stolen or lost California Social Security card in many ways—all of which can lead to you taking a major financial loss. Here are three ways they do it.
Opening new payment cards
Perpetrators often purchase the victim’s California Social Security number from other data thieves who stole the information. They use the information to open new payment card accounts by adopting the victim’s name.
Filing fraudulent IRS tax returns
Thieves can use a Social Security number to file a false tax return and create large tax reimbursements — all under the victim’s name and devoid of their knowledge. Knowing how to acquire a new Social Security card makes sense given the considerable expense if yours is lost or stolen.
Breaking into financial accounts via mobile phone theft
Fraudsters use California Social Security numbers to carry out digital fraud with stolen mobile phones. The victim’s stolen or lost Social Security number enables them to hijack mobile phone accounts and steal passwords delivered to the recipient’s digital device. The single-use passwords enable them to break into bank, credit card, and other financial accounts.
The lasting effects of identity theft
Financial Stress -
From filing police reports to restoring credit, it can take some time for victims to get finances straightened out. Those who already have financial distress or are still recouping from the economic recession might feel additional stress due to financial pressure. According to a report by Harvard Medical School, stress can cause brain changes that can promote anxiety and depression.
If the victim feels his or her identity was stolen through negligence or oversight he or she may be ashamed and blame himself or herself for the crime occurring.
Some victims hesitate to seek help because they believe their own actions or inactions may have aided the crime. You may blame yourself for not protecting your password for an account or for not destroying sensitive personal documents. While taking responsibility for safeguarding your identity is vital, self-blame can be emotionally harmful.
Feeling Vulnerable -
Identity theft is very personal in nature, and for many victims, the worst part is they can never identify the criminal. Experts believe trying to identify who the person is gives us this false sense of control, but ultimately it does make us feel better.
The anonymity of the crime can also lead victims to feel isolated as they look for the individual who committed the crime. Axton Betz-Hamilton of Charleston, Illinois, and her family were victims of identity theft when she was a kid. She explains that for years, they separated themselves from friends and other family members who could have been the perpetrators.
“We cut off relationships with aunts and uncles, friends of the family for 20 years,” she explains. Although she ultimately discovered who stole her identity, she lived for a long time being suspicious of everyone. “Every time I went in a store or had a group interaction, I wondered if the person who stole my identity was there.”
Family Strife -
According to Javelin Strategy and Research, the bulk of identity theft is carried out by family members or friends. Everything from gambling addictions to unmanageable debt can lead someone to hone in on a relative and swipe his or her identity.
When children are victims, it’s often the parents, foster parents, or other family members who are the offenders. Being deceived by someone you love and trust can be emotionally catastrophic for victims.
They may not report the crime to law enforcement in order to defend a loved one. There’s often an urgency to keep the issue in the family, leaving some victims to stomach the suffering alone and recover financially by themselves.
“Think of the assault of that, the trust that’s broken when someone does that,” explains Turner. “If the thieves are a group of people who live in a foreign country and are complete strangers and it’s totally random, in a way it’s almost easier to recover from that. If you find out that it’s somebody who’s close to you, that’s a whole different ballgame.”