What to Do if You Lose a Social Security Card

The process of how to address lost social security cards is simple and painless. To get a replacement card, you should apply for a replacement by filling out Form SS-5 (www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ss-5.html). Replacements require proof of identity, so the applicant has to furnish the agency with valid documents, such as a driver's license, marriage license or divorce decree, school ID card, a valid passport or an employer ID card.

The form should be properly filled out and personally submitted to a local Social Security office along with original identification documents or copies that were certified by their issuing agencies. It is important to note that photocopies or even notarized copies of identification documents are not acceptable. The SSA website has an office locator (www.socialsecurity.gov/locator/) to help citizens find the Social Security office serving their area.

Individuals applying for a replacement card will not be provided with new social security numbers. The same number on the old card would be used on the new one unless identity theft is reported, in which case a new number will be assigned. The Social Security Administration will not be able to prevent the misuse of lost cards, but there are ways to handle identity theft.

If you suspect someone else is using your Social Security number, you need to start learning more about identity theft and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You can call the agency up through its toll-free hotline at (877) ID-THEFT or (877) 438-4338. You can also file the complaint online through the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) and make sure your income is correctly calculated by obtaining a copy of your Social Security record. For this, you can call the agency's toll-free line at (800) 772-1213. It's also important to go over your credit reports to make sure that no one has applied for credit using your name.