How to Replace a Lost
Social Security Card

If you’ve lost your social security card, you must act fast to get a replacement. Without your card, it will be difficult to obtain employment, track earnings, or apply for higher education. You may even expose yourself to identity theft. While most information around the web instructs you on how to replace your card, we found that no resources properly instructed readers on what to actually do in the event of a lost card to ensure your earnings are tracked properly and your identity kept safe. This complete guide to replacing a lost social security card helps you protect your identity, get a new card fast (and for free), and ensure no mistakes are made by the Social Security Administration. Your social security card is your link to the Social Security Administration (SSA). If your card is lost or you believe someone has stolen it, take immediate action. While what’s most important is the number on the card, you have to present the physical card in several key situations. And, it’s important to remember that a thief with your card can now do anything you could do with it. This guide will cover:

  • Which documents you need to replace your card
  • How to protect your identity (and the dangers of identity theft)
  • Eligibility requirements
  • How to properly monitor your Social Security earnings
  • How you can replace your card online (in certain situations)
  • Answers to frequently asked questions

And much more

Here’s everything you need to know

Lost Ssn Card

Lost Social Security Card - What Should I do First?

As we said before, someone with your Social Security card and a bit of ingenuity can do anything you could do with it. Whether you suspect foul play or have simply lost it, you must take immediate action to protect your identity. While most sources direct the cardholder to begin the application process, it is imperative that you take steps to protect your identity first. The financial repercussions of fraud are long-lasting or at the very least time consuming and a nuisance.

 

Warning:The Social Security Administration CANNOT fix your credit score in the event of fraud.
First, before we cover how to protect your identity, let’s cover what a thief can do with your SSN.

What Can Someone do with my Social Security Number?

Someone who steals your number can:
Use it to obtain more information about you: Anyone with your SSN can use it to see other private information such as your address or date of birth. They can then use this information for fraud.

 

Sell it someone else: There are criminal networks that sell lost Social Security Cards to illegal residents in the United States so they can take on new identities. You may be responsible for their financial actions.

 

Obtain credit: With your SSN, someone can take out credit and ruin your good name. They may take out a loan or run up credit card bills and never repay. As we mentioned before, the SSA cannot fix your credit report in the event of fraud.

 

Take your tax refund: The most clever of thieves can use your Social Security number to file a tax return in your name and take your tax refund.

Social Security Card Lost

What Should I do if I’ve Lost My Card?

Now that you understand the severity of the situation, it’s time to take action. As we mentioned before, your first goal is to secure your financial situation. There is always time to apply for a new card from the Social Security Administration. However, financial disaster most likely can’t be undone.

Step 1: Protect Your Finances

Start by contacting the credit bureaus. There are three major credit bureaus in the USA, and if you contact one they will contact the other two on your behalf. Ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit. The three bureaus are:

  • 1. Equifax
  • 2. Experian
  • 3. Transunion

From there, request a copy of your credit report. You are allowed one free report from each of the three main credit bureaus every year. However, these reports will not contain your Fico score.
Go to: Annualcreditreport.com check your credit report for any suspicious activity.
Tip: Some thieves are very savvy and will wait a month or 2 before taking any suspicious actions so that your guard is down. Even if you’ve taken the necessary precautions, mistakes can still be made and fraud may occur. Renew your alert again in 90 days until you are certain the situation has been resolved.

Step 2: File the Necessary Reports

Even if you don’t believe theft has occurred, you should file a report with the Federal Trade Commission, Internal Revenue Service, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and your local police department.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC): If you believe someone is misusing your SSN for themselves, file a report with the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov. This is a one-stop resource for victims of fraud that can help you manage the situation and prevent it in the future.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Contact the IRS at IRS.gov to report your card lost or stolen. This will prevent someone from filing a tax return in your name and taking your tax refund.

Contact your local police department: It is always recommended to contact your local police in the event that your card has been stolen. This will help protect you in the event the thief uses your card for illegal activities.

File a report with IC3: The Internet Crime Complaint Center is an easy-to-use reporting mechanism for victims of cybercrime. One report will instantly contact the proper authorities and alert them of criminal or civil violations.

Lost My Social Security Card
Card Lost Security Social
Step 3: Contact the Social Security Administration

The final step to protecting your finances and identity is to contact the Social Security Administration itself. Report your lost card to them so that they can review your earnings report for any mistakes.

Step 4: Gather the proper documents

Now that you’ve secured your identity, checked for fraud, and alerted the proper authorities, NOW is the proper time to begin the process of replacing your lost Social Security card. The first step is gathering the proper documents.
Which Documents do I Need to File for a New Card?
To file for a new card, you need to present at least two separate documents. You may use one document for two purposes, but you still must show at least two. We explain further below. You need:

Proof of Citizenship: The SSA will only accept either a US passport or birth certificate as proof of US citizenship. Immigrants must follow a different procedure (we will detail this later).
Proof of Age: If a birth certificate exists, you must present it. The Social Security Administration may accept other documents if your birth certificate does not exist, including:
  • A religious record made before the age of 5 showing your date of birth;
  • U.S. hospital record of your birth; or
  • U.S. passport.
Proof of Identity: To prove your identity, you must submit one of the following::
  • A U.S. driver’s license;
  • State-issued non-driver identification card; or
  • U.S. passport.

All documents must be currently valid, show your information clearly, and include a picture of you (preferably recent).

Note: the SSA will only accept original copies and not photocopies or notarized copies.
For Immigrants: If you are an immigrant to the United States of America, you must prove your immigration status, identity, and work status in order to replace your card. Acceptable documents include your I-94, I-766, or I-551.
Quick Summary:
We know that’s a lot of information to take in, so here is a quick summary of what you’ll need to file for a replacement for your stolen or lost Social Security card:
  • You must prove your citizenship, age, and identity
  • You must show at least 2 documents (the SSA will accept 1 document for two purposes, such as a United States passport for citizenship and identity)
  • All documents must be currently valid and in original form (no photocopies).

See, that’s not so bad!

Step 5: Replace Your Card

Now that you have the proper documentation ready, you can proceed to actually filing for your new card. Depending on where you are located, you can choose one of two options. Keep in mind that the process for replacing your card is not necessarily difficult, it’s just tedious. The form must be filled out properly and you must submit it and may need to wait up to several weeks. If you’ve made any mistakes, you won’t find out until you receive a notice of denial.

1. Replace Your Lost Social Security Card Online

This is by the far the easiest and most convenient method of replacing your card. Filing online through the online Social Security portal is relatively simple and straightforward. Residents of the following states are eligible to apply online:
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware (driver’s license only), District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, or Wisconsin (driver’s license only). If you are not from one of these US states, skip to the next method. Don’t worry, new states are being added regularly, so continue to check back (though we hope you don’t have to replace your card again).

  • Set up your My SSA account: Go to SSA.gov/myaccount and create a new account.
  • Select “Replace Documents”: Sign in to your account and select the Replace Documents link on the upper right-hand part of your screen.
  • Answer the prompts: You’ll be prompted to verify your email address and answer some background questions.
  • Enter your information: Now, a form will appear where you enter your personal details. Fill in your personal details, address, and phone number. Once this form is complete, your new card will be on its way!

Note: If you are requesting changes to your name, SSN, and/or gender, you are not eligible to replace your card online.

2. Replace Your Card by Mail or at the Local Social Security Office

If you aren’t eligible for online replacement or live in a state where it is not yet allowed, you have to do things the old-fashioned (and slow) way. First, print out the Social Security card replacement form (SS-5) and fill it in. From there, gather the documents we listed above and mail them to the local Social Security Administration office or take them there in person. Please allow three weeks for your new card to arrive.

Replacement Social Security Card FAQ

We noticed that most applicants for a replacement Social Security card ask some of the same questions, so we’ve aggregated the most frequently asked questions here.

Q: How much does it cost to replace a Social Security Card?

A: Replacing your lost card is FREE OF CHARGE. Beware of services trying to charge you for simple tasks that can easily be completed for free. Of course, if convenience really matters that much to you, then you are obviously free to use any service you’d like. However, we recommend completing the process on your own for free. Please note that you are only allowed up to 3 free cards per year. Please try not to lose your card!

Q: The number is more important than the card. Do I really need to replace my card?

A: Replacing your lost card is FREE OF CHARGE. Beware of services trying to charge you for simple tasks that can easily be completed for free. Of course, if convenience really matters that much to you, then you are obviously free to use any service you’d like. However, we recommend completing the process on your own for free. Please note that you are only allowed up to 3 free cards per year. Please try not to lose your card!

Q: The number is more important than the card. Do I really need to replace my card?

A: Replacing your lost card is FREE OF CHARGE. Beware of services trying to charge you for simple tasks that can easily be completed for free. Of course, if convenience really matters that much to you, then you are obviously free to use any service you’d like. However, we recommend completing the process on your own for free. Please note that you are only allowed up to 3 free cards per year. Please try not to lose your card!

Q: How do I get a replacement Social Security card for a child?

A: Replacing your lost card is FREE OF CHARGE. Beware of services trying to charge you for simple tasks that can easily be completed for free. Of course, if convenience really matters that much to you, then you are obviously free to use any service you’d like. However, we recommend completing the process on your own for free. Please note that you are only allowed up to 3 free cards per year. Please try not to lose your card!

When it’s Time to Get a New Number Rather than a Replacement Card

Getting a new Social Security number is a far more tedious process than replacing your card. However, there are extreme situations where changing your number is warranted.
Knowing when getting a new number is the superior option to replacing a card is difficult and should be answered by an experienced professional. Before we get to how to change your number, let’s cover when you ARE NOT allowed to request a new Social Security number:

  • You cannot request a new number without evidence: If your card has been stolen but there is no evidence someone is using it illegally, you cannot request a new number.
  • You may not change your number to avoid the consequences of filing for bankruptcy: While we empathize with your situation, you may not request a new number simply to avoid the negative consequences of bankruptcy.
  • If you intend to avoid legal responsibilities, you won’t be granted a new number: This is fairly self-explanatory.

Applying for a new number requires the same documentation as requesting a replacement card. The only difference is you also need to submit evidence that misuse of your information is causing you financial harm and difficulties in life. This could be your credit report or other documentation (this is another situation in which filing reports comes in handy). Please keep in mind that a new number won’t necessarily solve all of your problems. Credit reporting agencies and state offices like the department of motor vehicles will most likely still use your old number. That means old problems won’t just disappear. In fact, a new number might create more headaches than it solves. Be sure to consult with the Social Security Administration first and exhaust all other solutions before taking this drastic step.

Replace Lost Social Security Card

Why Should I Replace my Lost Social Security Card?

Your Social Security card is one of the most vital documents you possess as an American citizen. However, it’s something you don’t really pay much attention to on a regular basis…until you lose it. There are some that believe you only need to protect your identity and report your card missing, and that applying for a new card isn’t worth all of the time and hassle. However, there’s a reason that a Social Security card is one of the first documents you receive upon becoming an American citizen, whether by birth or naturalization. While the card was originally intended only to track contributions to the Social Security system, in modern times the card is actually useful in a number of situations, including:

Gaining Employment

Your employer must report your wages on a W-2 form. They will more than likely ask you to bring your Social Security card so they can process your application. At the very least, they may ask you for it in order to ensure your eligibility for employment within the United States.

Going to College

Some colleges require you to present your Social Security card along with your application to verify you are who you say you are. Also, they may require your Social Security information to verify that you’re eligible for certain benefits.

Opening a Bank Account

Banks must verify your identity, and in some cases, verify your creditworthiness. They must also report the interest you earn from them to the IRS. They will want to see your Social Security card as proof that the SSN you’ve provided is accurate.

How to Keep Your Social Security Card Safe

The best way to avoid a lost Social Security card is not to lose it in the first place. Of course, accidents do happen and you can’t always avoid theft, but there are a few precautions you can take to help you avoid a worst case scenario. Here are a few tips to keep your card and your number safe:

  • Never take your card with you:Never carry your card on you unless you absolutely have to. If you don’t have a specific purpose for it during that day, leave it at home.
  • Keep is locked away: This goes for all of your important cards and sensitive data. Keep them in a safe and hide them away.
  • Never let anyone know where you keep it: a good deal of theft comes from people you know or at least are familiar with. In order to keep your things safe, never let anyone know where your important documents are unless they may need to access them.
  • Don’t give out your number unless required by law: You are only required to give your Social Security number on a few rare occasions. Most of the time, you are allowed to leave that section blank on applications. Of course, the company may refuse to do business with you. However, in the interest of protecting your identity, it may be worth it.
  • Hide documents with your sensitive information: Applications, tax returns, and any other documents with sensitive information like your SSN should be filed away in locked drawers for easy access and maximum protection. Again, never let anyone know where you keep these documents.

Replacing a lost Social Security card is free and relatively straightforward. However, the process is tedious and the repercussions of losing your card and exposing your sensitive data to the world are potentially disastrous. Anyone with access to your Social Security number can use it to do the same things as you can, including taking out loans and opening credit cards in your name. If your card is lost or stolen, protect your identity immediately and then begin the process of replacing your card. You can fill out the application here quickly and for free.

Summary - How to Replace a Lost Social Security Card

Your Social Security card is one of the most vital documents you possess. Without it, you will find it difficult to open a bank account, file a tax return, apply for a job, or even get into college. Also, if someone finds your Social Security card, they could use your number to commit identity theft. They could take out credit, open financial accounts, or file a tax return in your name and take your benefits.

 

You MUST protect your identity IMMEDIATELY and file for a replacement. First, contact the credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on your account. From there, contact the Social Security Administration and begin the replacement process. You will need a number of supporting documents, including proof of citizenship, identity, and age. This could be a United States passport, a driver’s license, and/or varying documents based on your situation. Submit these documents along with a properly completed SS-5 form either in person, by mail, or online (depending on your state of residence). While this service is available for free from the Social Security Administration,

 

there are 3rd-party filing services that make the process more convenient and give you the best chance at successfully receiving a new card. Services like ours allow you to skip the lines, get expert help with your documentation, and receive an auto-generated SS-5 form. Plus, you’ll get step-by-step instructions to complete this difficult process. Each year, countless Americans are DENIED a new Social Security card and forced to do the process all over again. Don’t make the same mistakes!

Key Takeaways

  • A Social Security card allows you to open a bank account, get a job, and serves a number of other important purposes.
  • If you’ve lost your Social Security card, you must file for a new one immediately.
  • First, protect your identity by contacting the credit bureaus.
  • Next, contact the Social Security Administration online or in person and begin the replacement process.
  • Gather the proper supporting documents (proof of citizenship, identity, and age).
  • Fill in the SS-5 form according to your situation.
  • Submit them to the SSA.
  • A 3rd-party service streamlines the process by making everything easier and more convenient. Step-by-step instructions, a properly generated form, and world-class customer support give you the best chance of being granted a replacement card.
  • Once you get a new card, keep it safe by locking it away at home!