Lost My Social Security Card – Now What?
The numbers are definitely daunting. Cases of ID theft reached the 12 million mark last year alone and crooks were able to scoot away with more than $21 billion from victims across America. Those who bled the most from financial identity theft, according to Fox Business, were the ones who had their Social Security numbers compromised. The report underlined the importance of safeguarding your SSN and acting quickly and correctly when it’s lost.
The importance of reporting a lost social security card cannot be understated, experts said. “Your nine-digit Social Security number is all a savvy ID thief needs to open new credit card accounts or loans in your name,” according to Yahoo Finance. With your social security card misplaced, your identity will be in the grip of fraudsters and the impact extends beyond the money losses. Your credit will absorb serious dents, leaving you with records that discourage access to crucial loans and even job opportunities.
Clearly, it is essential to report a lost social security card and take the necessary steps thereafter. Thieves may have gotten one over you at the onset but you can minimize the looming damages that can be caused by a lost SS card. And doing that is not as difficult or impossible as you may think.
Notify the concerned authorities.
First thing to do is file a complaint with the federal trade commission if you’re convinced that your SSN has been tampered with. That makes you a candidate to become an ID theft victim. File the report via a phone call or through registered mail. You can also obtain the pertinent information by visiting the social security or federal trade commission websites.
Get a replacement SS card if you need to.
According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, replacing your social security card is not an absolute requirement since the social security number alone holds the key to everything about you. Normally, providing this number from memory would suffice “to get a job, collect social security benefits and receive some government services.” In most cases, flashing the card during such transactions is not a must.
When applying, prepare the documents that will prove your identity and your citizenship. You can file personally by visiting the nearest social security office in your location or by sending them through registered mail. The new card will be returned 10 business days after receipt of the application papers.
Conduct risk assessment procedures.
Thinking that your finances are exposed is the right mentality, experts say, because this will prompt you to assume a proactive posture. One thing to check is your tax return, which is usually associated with your SSN. This is to ascertain that it not being misused. Do this regularly in order to pinpoint anomalies in case thieves are simply biding their time.
After this, you may then proceed to the damage-control phase.
Audit the contents of your wallet.
We tend to move around with clues that prove as gems to skilled ID thieves. “Your Social Security card is the absolute worst item to carry around,” Yahoo Finance said. Pull that out of your purse along with any other papers that display your SSN.
Get a credit report.
Once again, assuming that your identity is at risk and the bad guys are working double time to take a dip in your finances will keep you on your toes. It is in your best interest to scrutinize your credit history, poring over even the minute details to zero in on possible holes. Remember that suspect entries could lead you to the bigger picture, in which someone with your assumed identity is creeping in on your accounts. It is not remote that damaging splurges are underway and you’ll be figuring out how to clear up the bill in the end. Keep watch for you own sake. Note, too that credit reports are provided for free once a year by all the credit bureaus, but keep in mind that each one may contain different information and won’t include your score.
Subscribe to credit monitoring with fraud alerts.
You were told above to get in touch with authorities and the credit bureaus. While you’re at it, make use of credit monitoring. This practice will put a net of protection over your credit accounts and will make sure that all transactions, if any, will only proceed with your conscious approval. For victims of identity theft, this protection service is given for free for a defined amount of time. Also, private firms offer an extra shield of monitoring for a fee. Such can also be considered.
Fraud alerts will prove useful too under the same circumstances. Simply instruct one credit bureau to trigger the alert and then let the others follow suit. As the name implies, when fraud is detected your attention will be called to it in real time through SMS or email messages.
Opt for account closures.
There is no sense in monitoring over what you believe are compromised accounts. Shut them down with speed, Fox Business said, while ensuring that the request is accompanied by a note that says ‘closed upon expressed request of account holder’. “A closed account on your credit report could negatively impact your credit, but it’s the best option in the long run,” Fox Business added. The annotation is required to deflect blots on your credit credentials.
Keep watch on your accounts.
Fox Business noted that even when protection measures are in effect, thieves are gaining inroads by setting up new accounts using the social security information. This means fraud could remain undetected for a certain period of time. With this technique, the only way of discovering the irregularity would be when loan payments started missing the mark. Naturally, with your name appearing as the contracting party, you’ll get the advisories for loan defaults.
“Take any letters or notices as a call for alarm,” the report said, adding that initiating the right reaction to the situation will determine the extent of the damage to be incurred. If signs were ignored, the likelihood of further losses will materialize. But if appropriate actions are taken with the slightest hints of fraud, losses could be stemmed soon enough.
As stated above, millions were victimized and billions were lost last year and the large part of the success achieved by the perpetrators is due to the unauthorized access to a pool of strayed SSNs. No doubt this data opened up more doors for them than it used to. Still, experts insist that the bonanza can be stopped by victims, given they are fully aware of the implications and the importance of reporting a lost social security card. So with a mix of vigilance and a fitting reaction from SSN holders, the playing field can be levelled and thieves could be stopped before a crime is even committed. Are you alert enough and know what to do when confronted with a lost social security card?