When you lose your social security card, it is easy to dismiss or keep on postponing its replacement. After all, it is just a blue card that has been sitting in your wallet/purse for ages now, and you rarely use it. Unfortunately, this little blue card that has been sitting unused in your wallet in like forever can land you into a hot mess if you fail to take action when it gets lost or when it is stolen.
It is thereby vital that you take the necessary steps to replace it, as soon as you notice it is no longer where you keep it. However, replacing your SS card when you have never done so before can seem like a tedious task which is why we seek to make things easier for you by outlining how to get a replacement social security card fast.
Why you need to replace your card fast
Before we get to how to get a replacement SS card, it is easy to wonder why you need to replace your card. After all, you rarely use it even in situations when it seems relevant like during the application of social security benefits. Well, as irrelevant as it might seem here is why you need to replace it.
– To prevent identity theft
This is the primary reason why you need to get your card replaced as soon as possible. When your card is lost or stolen, it might end up falling into the hands of the wrong people. This is the last thing you want as your social security information available on the card is all they need to take your identity and open credit accounts in your name or access your bank account, leaving you financially crippled. In addition to messing with your finances, an identity thief might also file fraudulent tax returns using your social security pass, and this spells even more trouble for you as the IRS won’t understand that your card was lost or stolen if you fail to take the necessary steps to replace it.
1. Get a job
Employers are required by the law to use your social security number to file wages on W-2 forms. They will, therefore, request your card so they can retrieve the relevant information. They also require your card to verify that you are eligible for employment in the US.
2. Get treatment
During a doctor’s appointment, your physician might need your social security number to make sure that your medical info, for instance, medical cover and health insurance is not used by unauthorized people. They might also need the card for billing requirements.
3. Open a bank account
Your card is among one of the documents needed when opening a bank account. This is because your bank requires it to verify your identity, it especially comes in handy when you forget your account number, and you need to trace it. Additionally, banks use the info on the card to confirm your creditworthiness as well as reporting your account’s interest to the IRS.
4. Apply for a credit card
Just like opening a bank account, to apply for a credit card your issuer needs your card to prove your creditworthiness.
5. Enroll in school
Most colleges and universities in the US often require your SS card when you register to verify that you are eligible for studies in the US, as well as to confirm your identity.
What you need to do when your card is lost or stolen
As noted earlier, the stakes of your identity being stolen when your card goes missing are quite high. Therefore, before you begin the replacement process, you need first to follow the following steps to secure your identity and save yourself a lot of trouble
Step 1: Place a fraud alert on credit file
Before taking any other action, ensure you are on the safe side by placing a fraud alert on your credit file. Doing so prevents identity thieves from using your number to access your bank accounts, open credit accounts or file fraudulent taxes. Placing a fraud alert is quite simple as all you need to do is contact one of the three nationwide credit agencies, namely; Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. You need not to reach all of them because once you alert one of the loss, it will inform the two remaining agencies. The call is free, and the alert lasts for 90 days which secures your identity and gives you enough time to replace your card.
Step 2: Get your credit reports
Request for copies of your credit reports from the three agencies and review all of them for any suspicious activity. For instance, check if there are new credit accounts opened or if your account has been charged for transactions you did not make. Request your reports monthly so you can keep track of any suspicious activity on your records.
Step 3: Take necessary action
If you find any credit accounts you did not open close them immediately and file a report at the nearest police department so they can investigate the matter. Ensure you submit an identity theft complaint with the Federal trade commission. Also, don’t forget to notify the IRS of the theft. Failure to report to the IRS makes you responsible for any fraudulent tax returns that will be filed using your card.
Now onto the replacement
Once you follow all the above steps, it is now time to get your social security ID back. The process of replacement is quite easy and also free. However, note if your card is lost or stolen, you are limited to three replacements a year, so ensure you keep it safe. You can replace it online by visiting the SSA website or calling their toll-free number. While this is easy and convenient, getting your card replaced online might take some time. It is therefore advisable that you visit your nearest SSA office to get a replacement card fast. Here are the steps you need to follow
– Ensure you have the required identification documents for replacement. These include an original driver’s license, a US passport or a state-issued non-driver ID card. However, note that the SSA does not accept photocopies or receipts of the stated documents. Hence carry the originals to make things smooth sailing.
– Download and fill the card application form SS-5
– Submit the application form and said documents to the SSA office and wait.
On average, it takes about two weeks for you to get your social security card replaced. Nevertheless, the process is often a little more complicated if you were born outside the US or you are not a US citizen as you will need to show evidence of your US citizenship or verify your naturalization or lawful non-citizen status.