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What is the Procedure to Replace a Lost Social Security Card?

written by: •edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 4/14/2012

If you've lost, damaged or have had your social security card stolen, read this article. A brief guide to obtaining a new or replacement card is covered. There are also tips for keeping your card safe and preventing identity theft.

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    Information Contained On Social Security Card

    Social Security card 

    A social security card is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) of the U.S. Federal government and contains your first and last name along with a unique 9-digit number in the form xxx-xx-xxxx. The card is usually issued upon hospital birth within the U.S. and remains active as long as the person is alive. As soon as the person is deceased, the social security number is made inactive. You need a social security number to obtain a job, pay taxes and obtain many government services such as retirement or disability benefits.

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    What To Do If You Lose It

    If a social security card is lost or misplaced, you should get a replacement card as soon as possible. You can also get a replacement card if your existing card is damaged from wear and tear. If your social security card has been stolen, you should report it to the local authorities as soon as possible to prevent identity theft.

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    Obtaining A New One

    How/Where To File

    You are required to present an application for the card along with original proof of identity and U.S. citizenship, which can be a passport or birth certificate. The SSA allows you to either mail in your application and original proof or visit your local social security administration office in your city. There is an office locator on the SSA website that will give you the nearest location according to your zip code. Visit the SSA-office locator.

    If you’ve a new citizen, you must apply for a new social security card by filing an application. If you have a legal name change, then apply for a corrected social security card. If you are a parent, you can apply for a card for your child by filling out the same application in addition to the proper identification for the child.

    Wait Times for New, Replacement or Corrected Cards

    According to the SSA, the average wait time for a social security card application is three weeks, depending on the state. Some states like Texas, Utah and Arizona average about a week while others like North Carolina and Louisiana can average nine to ten weeks.

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    Tips For Keeping It Safe

    Social security cards represent a unique form of identification for an individual. The social security card and number are oftentimes the target of many identity thieves. A person’s social security number is linked to most other forms of personal and financial information related to a person. By knowing a person’s social security number, identity thieves can obtain vital records such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses and marriage records. Clever thieves can also illegally open bank accounts and credit cards in the victim’s name.

    For these reasons, it is recommended that your social security card itself should be kept in a safe and secure location at all times. Also, it is recommended that the social security number never be given out unless to a trusted authority, as many scams involving personal information exists. Social security numbers should never be transmitted over cell phones, by email or on social media websites where information can more easily be hacked.

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    References

    SSA.gov: Get a New Replacement Card - http://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/

    SSA.gov: Local Office Locator - https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/fo001.jsp

    (Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org)