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How to Report a Lost Social Security Card

If your social security card has gone missing, it’s common to feel panicked. After all, this card is one of the most important documents you have. Your social security card is linked to the most important aspects of your life: government, finances, health care, employment - and more.

If your card has been lost or stolen, you need to begin the process to report and replace it right away. This article will guide you through everything you need to know if your social security card is lost, including:

  • How to report a lost social security card
  • Why it’s important to report your lost card
  • Why you should replace your card quickly
  • What you’ll need for a replacement social security card

How to Report a Lost Social Security Card

There are several organizations you may want to contact if you lose your social security card. First, you may want to report your card as lost to the Social Security Administration. If there’s a chance your card was stolen or could fall into the wrong hands, you should also consider taking a few additional steps to protect your identity, including filing a police report and calling banks and credit bureaus to check for unusual activity.

Report your lost card to the SSA

The Social Security Administration does not require you to report a lost Social Security card. However, if you want to report your card as lost and check that there hasn’t been any fraudulent action that the SSA is aware of in relation to your lost card, you can call the main Social Security Administration service number for assistance.

The main toll-free phone number for the Social Security Administration is 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or hearing-impaired, you should use this number: TTY 1-800-325-0778. The Social Security Administration does not publish the phone number for your local social security office, and going to a social security office isn’t necessary anyways.

Automated services from the Social Security Administration are available by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These include recorded messages with information you might need and answers to common questions relating to your lost social security card. If you need to speak to a social security representative, they can be reached through the same number between 8 am and 5:30 pm Monday through Friday.

Before you call, be aware that wait times can be long. The Social Security Administration's website advises that hold times are typically longest on Mondays and later in the day, so try to call early in the morning Tuesday through Friday for the fastest service if you need to speak to a person. Be sure to call during a time when you’re available to wait on hold, so you don’t end up losing your place in line because you have to end the phone call early.

Contact your bank

Call your bank to report your concerns. Ask them what monitoring services they offer for fraudulent charges on your bank account, debit card and credit card. If you have any credit cards through a different bank, you should contact them as well. Most credit card companies provide fraud alert services.

Reach out to the credit bureaus

Contact the major credit bureaus to share your concern about potential fraud. The credit reporting agencies will have credit monitoring measures they can take to check for potentially suspicious activity by an identity thief impacting your credit report and can help prevent future problems.

Place Fraud Alerts or Credit Freeze on Your Credit Report

All the credit bureaus offer the ability to place a fraud alert or a temporary security freeze on your account. A fraud alert on your credit report will let companies know that they need to verify your identity before opening a new credit account in your name.

A credit freeze will prevent any company from accessing your credit report at all. You will still be able to apply for credit accounts but you will have to use a secret personal identification number to unfreeze and then refreeze your credit report each time you want to apply for credit.

The credit bureaus must by law provide you with a fraud alert or security freeze for free if you request them. The credit freeze lasts for a year and a fraud alert lasts for 90 days but you can renew it if needed.

File a police report

If your social security card went missing in a public location such as a store or parking lot you should also consider filing a police report for possible theft at your local police station. You can visit the station in person to report your potentially stolen social security card, or look up the local police non-emergency number.

Taking the actions above can help protect you against identity theft.

Why it’s Important to Report Your Lost Card

There are two areas of risk involved when your social security card goes missing.

Identity Theft and Financial Fraud

First, there’s the risk of the information falling into the wrong hands, which could lead to identity theft and financial fraud. This could potentially impact your credit score and finances for years to come.

It could prevent you from being able to borrow for major purchases, such as qualifying for a mortgage for a home or getting a car loan. Or damage to your credit history could mean you have to pay higher interest on loans.

Restricted Access

Second, there’s the risk of not having access to your social security card when you need it. This could delay you from starting a new job, opening a bank account or getting other documents you might need from the government.

For these reasons, it’s wise to act swiftly when you realize your social security card is missing. Once you report your card as lost, you should promptly start the process to replace it.

Why You Should Replace Your Card Quickly

Safeguarding your social security card and your social security number are important for many reasons. The Social Security Administration uses your Social Security Number (SSN) to track your earnings for future benefit payments. Your SSN allows you to access your records with the Social Security Administration and to receive payments that you are owed.

Your social security card and SSN are both important for employment. Most new employers will ask to see your social security card and all are required by the IRS to record your Social Security Number for tax purposes. Your social security card can serve as proof to employers that you are legally authorized to work in the United States.

You need to include your social security number when you file your tax return, apply for a Medicare card, and may need it when you apply for a driver’s license, marriage certificate, passport or other government documents or benefits.

Your social security number is a unique way for many businesses and organizations to identify you. It can also be an important part of proving your identity when carrying out sensitive or official business, like seeing your doctor, discussing an insurance claim, opening a bank account, or applying for a loan or credit card.

Your social security number is unique to you, so safeguarding this personal information and the card itself is critically important to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. If your social security card falls into the wrong hands, criminals may use it to open credit cards or bank accounts in your name or to help them pose as you to obtain fraudulent government documents. They may be able to gain access to a lot of your private information - endangering your reputation, finances and credit history.

For all of these reasons, it is essential to act quickly to report and replace your social security card if it is lost and to safeguard the personal information it contains. It is best not to carry your social security card in your wallet, but rather to keep it filed at home with other important documents, such as your birth certificate.

Replacing Your Lost Social Security Card

Fortunately, it is possible to replace a lost social security card. The Social Security Administration allows you to get up to three replacement cards in a calendar year and up to a maximum of 10 replacement cards within your lifetime.

You will need to fill out an application and gather required documentation to submit with it. Then you have three options for submitting your application to the Social Security Administration. You can make a trip to an SSA office near you, submit your application by mail, or - the fastest and easiest option - you can handle the entire process to get your replacement card online.

If you’re wondering how long to get a replacement social security card, typically the SSA will mail you your social security replacement card in 1-2 weeks once you have submitted your application.

You can learn what documents you will need and access the application for a replacement social security card with our step-by-step guide. It will walk you through the process to complete your application online, so you don’t have to take time off work or away from your weekday schedule to go to the local social security office during business hours, only to encounter long lines and wait times. Instead, we will guide you through the online application process so it’s quick, easy and completed entirely from the comfort of your own home.