Losing any of your personal belongings, particularly your credit cards and social security cards, is an alarming scenario that usually triggers panic and hysteria. For most people, paying the price for losing any of these very important materials has been a troublesome ordeal, especially with the need to go after unnamed identity thieves and trying to recover whatever they have taken away from you.
A (SSN) is important because you need it to fulfill a variety of things. You need one to get a job, to collect Social Security benefits, and receive some other government services, as well as apply for certain services from other businesses, such as banks and credit companies.This is why losing your social security card can spell doom, most of the time.
According to a February 2009 study by the fraud tracking firm Javelin Strategy and Research, “lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks and credit and debit cards made up 43 percent of all ID theft incidents in the United States in which the method of access was known.”
The dangers of identity theft
In 2011, more than 11.6 million individuals had become victims of identity theft in the United States. This is according to the 2012 Identity Fraud Industry Report conducted by fraud-tracking firm Javelin Strategy and Research.
Identity theft is a crime that occurs when someone steals your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, then without your permission uses that information or card to make an illegal purchase or conduct a fraudulent transaction. The report by Javelin Strategy and Research also shares that, despite repeated warnings about the hazards of social networks as a great resource for fraudsters, “consumers are still sharing a significant amount of personal information frequently used to authenticate a consumer’s identity.”
“While identity fraud incidence increased in 2011, it is becoming less profitable for fraudsters. Consumers, the financial services industry, law enforcement and government agencies are stopping fraud earlier and making new account fraud more difficult to perpetrate,” said James Van Dyke, president and founder of Javelin Strategy & Research.
What to do when you lose your SSN?
The first thing to do when you realize you’ve lost your social security card is to immediately file an application for a social security card (form SS-5) from the Social Security Department. This is a 4-page form that asks for basic personal information such as your name, date and place of birth, citizenship and your mother’s maiden name. File this form and present two valid forms of identification, such as a live passport or driver’s license, to help authorities verify the facts that you have just presented in your SS-5 form.
If any of these valid IDs are unavailable, you can consult a list of other materials provided by the agency for other forms of identification that you can provide instead.
Identity theft risks through lost security cards have been a common problem for many people. Here are a few things to keep in mind in order to prevent this kind of headache.
- Avoid bringing your social security card wherever you go. Like your credit and debit cards, you need to ensure that your social security card is kept in a secure, locked place, preferably separated from your other identification forms. Take this out of your purse or wallet.
- Take steps to report and recover your lost SSN card.Contact the Social Security office immediately to file for a replacement card.
- File a credit freeze in your account. This will help you keep your credit account safe and secure from identity thieves. Someone who has been using your personal information through your lost social security card won’t be able to secure credits using your name if your account is frozen. Not all U.S. states allow credit freezes, however, so you’ll want to check the specific rules for the state in which you live.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit file. A wallet or a purse that has gone missing for several hours already has probably landed in another person’s pocket. Contact your credit provider a few hours after you lose your social security card and ask to have your credit card blocked. This will protect you from any untoward incident that may result from fraudulent transactions traced back to your name.
Here are the contact numbers of the four major credit provider:
MASTERCARD: 1-800-627-8372 (US) or 1-636-722-7111 (Global)
VISA: 1-800-VISA-911 (1-800-8472-911) or 1-303-967-1096 (Global & collect)
- Close any account that you suspect has been used fraudulently. Keep in mind that the best way to combat identity theft is a deliberate action to protect your name and your welfare. What other measures do you do to safeguard your identity?
Amy Johnson is an active blogger who is fond of sharing interesting finance related articles to encourage people to manage and protect their finances. She also covers topics on how to prevent identity theft fraud that can help people prevent credit scams and identity fraud.