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  What can I do in a case of identity theft?
  What can I do in a case of identity theft?

Someone assuming your identity can cause many problems. If your Social Security card has been stolen, you can apply for a replacement card. Usually, the only time you will need to produce your card is when you apply for employment.

You can replace your card or your child’s card for free if it is lost or stolen. However, you are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. Legal name changes and other exceptions do not count toward these limits. For example, changes in noncitizen status that require card updates may not count toward these limits. Also, you may not be affected by these limits if you can prove you need the card to prevent a significant hardship.

To get a replacement card:

All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.

For details about evidence requirements and for more information, see Documents You Need for a Social Security Card.

When you apply for a replacement card, also ask Social Security to review your earnings records to ensure they are correct and that no one else is using your number to work. Likewise, verify your earnings each time you get your annual Social Security Statement.

We do not routinely assign a new number to someone whose identity has been stolen. First, you should do several other things, such as:

  • File a report with the local police or the police department where the identity theft took place, and keep a copy of the police report as proof of the crime;
  • Notify the Federal Trade Commission (1-877-ID-THEFT or 1-877-438-4338);
  • Contact the fraud units of the three major credit reporting bureaus:
  • Call each of your creditors to report fraud for any account that has been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

Only as a last resort should you consider changing your Social Security number. Changing your number may adversely impact your ability to interact with federal and state agencies, employers and others. This is because your financial, medical, employment and other records will be under your former Social Security number. If you have done all you can and someone still is using your number, we may assign you a new number. We cannot guarantee that a new number will solve your problem.

You cannot get a new Social Security number if:

  • You filed for bankruptcy;
  • You intend to avoid the law or your legal responsibility; or
  • Your Social Security card is lost or stolen, but there is no evidence that someone is using your number.

To protect yourself in the future, treat your Social Security number as confidential information and avoid giving it out unnecessarily. Many businesses and other organizations may ask for your Social Security number, but you are not required to give it. Keep your Social Security card in a safe place with your other important papers. Do not carry it with you.

For more information about Social Security and identity theft, see Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number (Publication No. 05-10064) and Your Social Security Number and Card (Publication No. 05-10002).

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