How to Quickly Replace a Stolen or Lost Social Security Card

  • By Greg Brown
  • Feb 13, 2023

replace a stolen social security card

Keeping track of a small piece of paper for 60 or 70 years is nearly impossible for most of us. That is why the Social Security Administration has made it relatively easy to replace your SS card. After the first replacement of a social security card, most people realize the importance of keeping the document safe.

Losing a social security card will often expose you to identity theft, fraud, damaged credit, and lost finances. Without physical proof, it may be impossible for an individual to collect government benefits or get a job. 

With great memory comes great responsibility. The SSA has set hard limits on the number of cards that can be issued. No more than three social security number cards can be replaced in a calendar year, and only ten replacement cards in a lifetime. The administration may extend these limits on a case-by-case basis with compelling circumstances. For example, an exception could be granted if there is significant hardship on the person or family, such as obtaining benefits or services. Change of citizenship status and change of legal name are not included as part of those limits.

Lost Social Security Card

The SSA allows three ways to replace a lost card online, by mail, or in person. Create a My Social Security account if you want to request a new card online. You will need to meet additional requirements. 

  • US Citizens over the age of 18
  • There will be NO name change
  • US mailing address (military and diplomatic addresses can be used)
  • You reside in a state that shares its data with Social Security. Forty-six states and the District of Colombia share their data. 

If you want to change the name on your social security card, proof of the new name must be provided, such as court orders, a marriage certificate, or even adoption papers. There must be proof of your identity and your citizenship status, and the documents should be originals or certified copies.

Applications by Mail or In-Person

Fill out an application form and either mail it or take the form to a local Social Security Administration office. Provide primary proof of identity, including a driver’s license, passport, or state-issued ID. Secondary forms of identification may be accepted, showing your name, photo, and date of birth. Employee ID cards, student or US military IDs, and health insurance cards may work. The administration requires original documents or certified copies; even if notarized, photocopies are inadequate.

Stolen Social Security Cards

replace lost social security card

A stolen social security card provides a new set of headaches for the card’s owner. With a valid card, predators can steal identities, open bank accounts, use existing accounts, and not pay the bills. On June 25, 2011, the Social Security Administration began changing how cards were issued. The new assignment process was called randomization and was designed to protect the integrity of the SSN and make it more challenging to steal and use.

It is easy for a predator to steal a social security card or a number by physically getting the information from the owner or a company’s security breach. Here are a couple of ways a criminal can steal your card or number:

  • The most common way for a predator to steal vital information is from the owner’s trash. It is common for papers such as medical bills or financial statements to have a social security number.
  • Criminals are always on the lookout. Overhearing someone say their number is not uncommon, such as registering at a hospital or opening an account at a bank. People are routinely asked for their numbers. 
  • An employer data breach is the most common way predators get a host of personal information, even if you take all the necessary precautions.

According to identitytheft.org, a person’s identity is being stolen every 22 seconds, which is expected to increase in 2023. Just as non-criminals use technological advancements, so do predators when stealing identities. The broad range of identity theft is expanding, now including medical, child, financial, and many more thefts.

What to do if Your Card is Lost or Stolen

Social security cards are linked to your identity and crucial to your life. It is in your best interest to keep the card safe. However, a few things should be done right away if the card is lost or stolen.

  • Place a fraud alert or credit freeze on all your credit reports. Begin to place locks on credit cards and other financial accounts. Bank accounts will only close your current account and send new information about a checking or savings account. Contact each of the three credit bureaus and report the stolen card so that you can place a fraud alert. One bureau will notify the other two in most instances, but it is still best to make formal contact with each one.
    • Place a security freeze on each of your credit reports to stop any new credit accounts from being opened. Security freezes have federal regulation and oversight, plus they are free to place with each of the three bureaus. Equifax gives plenty of good information on why and how to place a freeze on credit accounts.
  • Report the stolen card immediately to the SSA and start replacing the card. Use the information above to apply for an MYSocialSecurity account and get your new card within 10 to 14 days. 
  • Keep an eye on credit reports for any unusual activity and ensure no modification of existing accounts has occurred. You might also take note of any unusual mail that is persistently arriving at your address or inquiries from lenders and credit companies you know nothing about. Consumers are allowed one free credit report from the three major bureaus in 12 months. Visit annualcreditreport.com to inquire.

Resources to Contact

  • Call the SSA to report a lost or stolen card at (800) 772-1213
  • Social Security Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271
  • Internal Revenue Service at (800) 908-4490
  • Experian Help at 888 397-3742
  • TransUnion at 888 909-8872
  • Equifax Help at 800 685-1111

Final Word

Social security cards are necessary documentation in every person's life. Cards should be held safely and never carried around in a wallet or purse. The SSA and other federal agencies have made it easy to replace vital documentation and report stolen or lost cards and IDs. Take advantage of the convenience.

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