What Should you Do If your Social Security Card Is Lost or Stolen?

Replacing your Social Security card isn’t difficult or expensive. Completing an application and showing a photo ID will get you a new card. The real problem with losing your Social Security card is you can’t change your number, which is among the most useful tools for identity thieves. If your card is lost or stolen, the best thing you can do is closely monitor your accounts or enroll in an identity protection service.

The first thing you need to know about replacing your lost or stolen Social Security card is you may not really need to. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), it is far more important that you simply know your Social Security number than it is to actually carry your card with you.

While you may need to know your Social Security number for filling out various applications, you are rarely required to actually show anyone your Social Security card. You do not even need your card when applying for Social Security benefits. In fact, if you carry your card with you, the more likely it is to be lost or stolen, greatly increasing your risk of becoming an identity theft victim.

Take steps to protect yourself from identity theft

Step 1: Place a fraud alert on your credit file to prevent identity thieves from using your Social Security number to open credit accounts in your name or access your bank accounts. To place a fraud alert, simply call the toll-free fraud number of any one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies.

Replacing your lost or stolen Social Security card

There is no charge for replacing a lost or stolen Social Security card, so watch out for scammers offering card replacement "services" for a fee. You can replace your own or your child's card, but you are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. Replacing a card because of legal name changes or changes in U.S. citizenship and naturalization status does not count against those limits.

To get a replacement Social Security card you will need to:

  • Complete Form SS-5 - Application for a Social Security Card. (This form can be used to apply for a new card, to replace your card or to correct information shown on your card.).
  • Present an unexpired original document, , like a drivers license, with identifying information and preferably a recent photograph that proves your identity.
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, show evidence of your current naturalization or lawful noncitizen status.
  • Replacement Social Security cards cannot be applied for online. You must either take or mail the completed SS-5 application and all required documents to your local Social Security Office. To find your local Social Security service center, see the SSA's Local Office Search website.

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