Only a few weeks had passed since I last opened the tin while doing some new year’s cleaning. I’m positive I saw my Social Security card when I dug through the tin of cards then. I’m also positive I threw away a bunch of old cards. And now I’m pretty sure I accidentally tossed my SS card. Whoops.
I’m not too embarrassed or too worried since I lost my card rather than having it stolen. SS cards are made of paper and I’m confident that once mine makes it to a landfill, it’ll be beyond recognizable.
Nevertheless, it’s risky to lose such an identifying card. So here’s a rundown of financial risks associated with your SS card, how to handle them and how to replace the darn thing. Keep in mind you’re likely at more risk if your card was taken rather than simply misplaced.
Identity theft is the biggest risk associated with losing your SS card. At the same, with or without an SS card, every consumer is at risk of identity theft. So let’s just say losing your SS card doesn’t help your chances.
With your SS card, identity thieves can start credit cards in your name, buy expensive things and ultimately hurt your credit history. If they want, these thieves could more easily access your credit report. Your SS number is attached to your credit lines and fixing a ton of inaccuracies on your credit report consumes energy and time.
Since throwing my card in the trash, I’ve checked my credit report and nothing strange has popped up.
Your SS number is definitely associated with any and all bank accounts you have. Letting your card fall into the wrong hands could lead to a criminal accessing your accounts. Again, no weird activity on my bank account has surfaced since I tossed my SS card.
Right after you learn you’ve lost or SS card or had it stolen, check your credit and bank accounts to ensure no suspicious activity has occurred.
If you don’t yet have a passport, a photo ID coupled with your SS card is your best bet for identification. But if you’re trying to travel and you’ve lost your SS card, you might be in trouble. Your citizenship isn’t in jeopardy, but without an SS card you can’t as easily prove your ID.
There’s still about a month until Tax Day 2013. If your SS card was stolen and you haven’t completed your taxes, there’s a chance somebody can claim your tax return before you get a chance to do it yourself. Call the Internal Revenue Service Identity Protection Unit at 1-800-908-4490 to make sure the SS number associated with your tax return isn’t misused.
I filed my taxes before February even started and everything went off without a hitch. I took that as a good sign that nobody has messed with my SS number.
Any and every employer I’ve had has required a copy of my SS card. Without it, you’re hindering your ability to find work. You’re also giving somebody else the chance to get a job with your SS number.
Replacing your card
If somebody stole your SS card, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about the possible identity theft. Call 1-877-438-4338. Another quality resource is the Internet Crime Complaint Center, an organization dedicated to helping cybercrime victims.
Getting a new SS card isn’t too hard. My buddies told me that it’d be a hassle and cost me money. Good thing they were wrong. However, you only get three replacement cards in a year and only 10 replacement SS cards in your lifetime. Don’t get too careless!
The Social Security website is surprisingly easy to understand and navigate, but you’ll likely need an original document that proves your identity and U.S. citizenship (e.g. a passport) and a completed application for a Social Security card. You can simply mail those materials to a local SS office and you’re done. Package sensitive materials securely as you don’t want to end up without an SS card and a passport.
Next time you’re cleaning your room, find a safe place for your SS card that isn’t your trash can.
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Category: Money Basics