I have lost my Social Security card. Should I implement a fraud alert? What should I do next to protect myself from identity theft?
Any time you lose sensitive personal information such as your Social Security card, it is a good idea to request an initial security alert be added to your credit report. An initial security alert is free and remains on your report for 90 days. It lets creditors know that you may be a victim of identity theft so someone could be trying to apply fraudulently for credit in your name.
How to Add an Alert When a Social Security Number is Lost
The easiest way to request a security alert is by going online, although you can also request the alert by phone or by mail.
To add an alert via the Internet, visit Experian's online Fraud Center and select "Add an initial security alert." Simply complete the form and submit it through the secure Web link.
To add an alert by phone call 1 888 EXPERIAN (1 888 397 3742) and select the fraud option. Follow the voice instructions to add an alert and request a report.
Your request will be sent automatically to the other two national credit reporting companies, and they will add the alert as well.
Get Your Free Credit Report and Review it Carefully
At the time you request the alert you also can request a free copy of your credit report. It is important that you obtain a copy of your credit report so that you can review it for any signs fraudulent activity as soon as possible.
Be sure to look it over carefully and contact Experian if you see any information that looks like it could be because of fraud.
You should also request reports from each of the other two credit reporting companies, Equifax and Trans Union. There may be information appearing on one credit report that isn't on the others.
Monitor Your Credit Report
It's a good idea to always keep a close eye on your report, and especially so if you may be a fraud victim. Doing so will ensure you discover signs of fraud and can take additional steps if necessary.
If you do find evidence of fraud, file an identity theft report with your local police department or law enforcement agency. After filing a police report, request a 7-year victim statement. The victim statement alerts lenders that you are a fraud victim and asks them to call you before granting credit in your name. You can provide two telephone numbers to be included in the alert.
Consider subscribing to an identity theft protection service as well. The service will alert you immediately to any changes to your credit file including new accounts, changes of address and personal information found on the Dark Web. Any one of these changes could potentially be due to fraud so you can act quickly to prevent further use of your identity. Most services have a Fraud Resolution team to help you with any alerts and issues found.
Contact the Social Security Administration
If you haven't already done so, contact the Social Security Administration to let them know the card was lost and to request a new one. For more information, please visit the Social Security Administration's site.
Thanks for asking.
Michael Bruemmer, VP, Sales Operations
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.
This article was originally published on September 15, 2016, and has been updated.