Lost or Stolen IDs: Complete Guide on What to Do
Table of Contents
- By David Lukic
- Apr 12, 2022
Losing your ID or having it stolen can be a stressful situation. Thankfully, you can take steps to protect your private information, and if your identification is stolen or lost, you can quickly replace them and minimize the damage.
What is Lost or Stolen Identification?
Lost ID refers to a legal document that contains your personal information that could be used for identity theft. Stolen ID refers to a situation when one of your legal documents that contain personally identifiable information (PII) is stolen to be used for fraud.
Some of the most common types of lost IDs or stolen IDs include:
Your driver's license is one of the most important pieces of ID you carry. It has a lot of information contained within it, and it could be compromised along with your lost wallet. One of the most common stolen ID cards is a driver's license. A missing driver's license can cause you a ton of headaches and turn you into a victim of identity theft.
To replace your driver's license, contact your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) office and fill out an application. You may have to take an eye exam and prove your identity, and you will have to pay a fee.
A U.S. passport is necessary for international travel and to verify your identity in some situations. This critical document is an essential form of identification, and if stolen, it could allow an identity thief to commit fraud.
Contact the Department of State to replace your lost or stolen U.S. passport. The procedure will be similar to replacing your driver's license. You can also replace your passport by visiting a passport office (U.S. post office, clerk of court, or some libraries), filling out the paperwork, supplying the photos, and paying the fee.
A birth certificate is one of the first pieces of identification you receive. It verifies your birth, your age, and your parents. When you apply for a driver's license, passport, or other IDs, you typically have to show a copy of your birth certificate.
To get a copy of your birth certificate, you can contact your state vital records office or use the online service VitalChek for a replacement. You will have to verify your identity and pay a fee.
Social Security Card
A social security card has your social security number on it, which is your unique identifier and a very vulnerable piece of ID if it falls into the hands of strangers. They can use your SSN to impersonate you and commit other types of fraud.
Contact the Social Security Administration to replace your lost or stolen social security card. You will need to provide a copy of your birth certificate and possibly other types of photo ID.
Institutional & Private ID Cards
Companies and schools often issue students private ID cards. A stolen identification card could allow an intruder to access areas of a building that they would not be allowed in.
Contact your school or work administrator to find out how to replace your private ID card.
The military issues IDs to soldiers and the administration. A lost military identification card could put an entire military base and its employees at risk. Security on military bases is usually quite strict.
The military has its own rules about issuing IDs. Contact your supervisor to find out how to replace yours if it is stolen or lost.
Green Card, Visas, & Immigration IDs
When someone immigrates or visits the U.S., they are issued a temporary or permanent green card, visa, or other types of immigration ID. If they lose it or it is stolen, they could be stuck without a way to travel back home.
You will need to contact the U.S. Immigration office and follow the procedures to replace your lost or stolen green card or visa.
Financial, IRS, & Medical Cards
Some people have other IDs issued to them, such as financial, IRS, or medical ID cards. These along with credit cards and debit cards can be a serious cause for concern if they are lost or stolen.
Contact the issuing agency or insurance company to request a copy of your stolen or lost ID.
What to Do if You Lost Your ID?
The last thing anyone wants to declare is, "I lost all my identification documents!" However, it could happen. If you lose one or all your IDs, follow the steps below.
First, understand that you will be charged a fee to replace most IDs. Fees may range from $10 to $50 or more, depending on the type of ID you are replacing.
Government agencies issue most IDs. To replace them, you must visit the issuing agency and fill out an application for replacement. You will have to pay the fee and often provide alternative forms of identification to verify that you are you.
Where and How to Report Identity Theft
You can report your lost ID or stolen ID to the issuing agency and, if applicable, the local law enforcement agency in your area to file a police report. For example, if your wallet is stolen while shopping at the mall, you might want to inform the security personnel there and the local police. You should also contact the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) to put a fraud alert on your file and perhaps even a credit freeze so no one can open new accounts in your name. You are entitled to a free credit report annually. You should also contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and report any identity theft or fraud. They have a dedicated website (identitytheft.gov) for this purpose.
How Can Lost or Stolen Identification Cause Identity Theft
Once a thief gets ahold of your ID, they could use the information to access online services, impersonate you to get into your bank accounts or connect additional information found on the dark web about you. Some of the ways lost or stolen ID can put you at risk of identity theft are:
Exposed Personal Profile & Stolen Credentials
If someone has some of your personal information, it could lead to the loss of all your identification. Once someone can access your details, they can combine it with information stolen online and sold on the dark web. Armed with your ID, cybercriminals could access dozens of your other accounts. Therefore, always use strong passwords and turn on two-factor authentication to keep the bad guys out.
Financial Fraud & Account Takeovers
If a criminal puts together an ID profile on your, they might find enough information to take over your other accounts and wipe out your finances. Account takeover is a very serious issue that you need to be aware of and protect yourself from.
Thieves can even use membership cards stored in your stolen wallet to access your rewards programs and use your points for themselves. Anything linked to your identification is at risk if lost or stolen.
Health Insurance / Medical Fraud
Criminals can also use your medical ID to get services and prescriptions and even alter your medical profile, putting your health at risk. Medical identity theft is a serious problem and many identity theft victims are targeted using their healthcare or medical ID cards.
Security Tips on Storing Your Identification Documents
To protect your digital life and your identification, follow the tips below when storing different types of IDs.
Keep Your Social Security Card at Home
Never travel with your social security card unless you absolutely need it. Instead, keep it stored in a locked, safe compartment in your home.
Use a Digital Wallet
Store your driver’s license (available in some states), medical IDs, and other cards in your digital wallet and leave the real cards at home. You can secure your mobile device with biometrics so no one can access your personal information if your phone is stolen.
Safe Deposit Box
Store your passport and birth certificate in a bank safe deposit box. Most people don’t need these items that often, and it makes sense to keep them in a secure, locked location until you need them.
Shred Personal Paperwork
Before discarding any paperwork with your identifying information, shred it first. Don’t throw away bank statements, or other paperwork from financial institutions that have your account number or credit card number on them. Shred-it first. Never put mail containing your SSN or other PII in the mailbox. Instead, drop it off at the post office. Thieves steal trash and mail to collect personal information.
Additionally, sign up for identity monitoring and credit monitoring to protect yourself from identity theft. These services provide identity theft protection by keeping a close eye on all your personal information and alerting you when it shows up online so you can take the proper steps to minimize any damage.