When Social Security numbers were introduced in the 1930s, they were never meant to be used as our de facto national ID. However, if you are like most of us, you use your Social Security number all of the time, whether it’s at the doctor’s office or at the bank. You need a Social Security number to apply for jobs, to open a credit card account, and even to get married. Because we use this number so much, many of us have it memorized and very rarely have to pull out our Social Security cards – but what happens if your Social Security card is lost or stolen? First, you should immediately contact your local police department and the Social Security Administration to let them know about the incident. Once you’ve done that, there are a few other things that you can do to help mitigate the risks involved with losing your Social Security Card.
Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report
Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report. When you do this, creditors and lenders use stricter guidelines when screening applications. These fraud alerts last for 90 days, but you can also ask for an extension on that after the first 90 days.
Freeze Your Credit
If you’ve lost your Social Security card, identity thieves have everything that they need to open credit cards and lines of credit in your name. To thwart their efforts and increase your security, consider freezing your credit. If you do this, please consider that in order for you (the real you) to be able to use your credit for things like refinancing or opening a new line of credit you will need to temporarily remove the freeze.
Use an Identity Theft Protection Service
These services ensure that your credit is monitored 24/7 by a team of pros who can also help you restore your identity if it is stolen. Make sure you understand exactly what your identity theft protection service is offering before you sign-up. To see how IdentityForce helps protect you, visit this page.
Keep a Close Eye on Your Credit
If you freeze your credit or place a fraud alert on your credit reports, don’t think that means you are free and clear. Thieves can certainly act on stealing your identity in other ways. So, it is imperative that you watch your credit very closely.
Be Smart About Your Online Actions
Finally, there are some pretty obvious tricks out there that cybercriminals use, and people fall for them all of the time. These are things that we should all be aware of, but if you’ve recently had your Social Security card stolen, you should pay extra close attention to the following:
- Don’t click on email links, even if you think it’s from a person or company you know.
- Don’t open emails that have sensational subject lines.
- If you have the option to use two-factor authentication, you should.
- Use a firewall, an antivirus program, and anti-malware software on all computers.
- Shred any personal documents before you throw them away, especially if they have any account numbers or your Social Security number on them.
- Use complex passwords for all of your accounts. Each should be unique. Don’t use something obvious like “123456” or your date of birth.
- Never give up your Social Security number except when absolutely necessary, such as on a credit card application, loan application, or job application.