Most people know which documents contain sensitive information and require special care. But do you know what to do if you lose your Social Security card, credit card or driver’s license? There are two concerns when you lose a card or document that contains sensitive information — retrieving it for your personal use and doing whatever you can to prevent identity theft that could result from the loss. Here’s a guide for getting through the loss of sensitive documents.
Social Security card
Replacing your Social Security card isn’t difficult or expensive — the Social Security Administration allows you to receive three free replacements in a year or 10 in a lifetime. Completing an application and showing a photo ID will get you a new card. The real problem with losing your Social Security card is you can’t change your number, which is among the most useful tools for identity thieves. If your card is lost or stolen, the best thing you can do is closely monitor your accounts or enroll in an identity protection service.
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Your best bet is to carry your Social Security card with you only when absolutely necessary and put it in a safe place the rest of the time. Here are a number of other tips to help you avoid Social Security fraud.
As soon as you realize you might have lost a credit card, cancel, cancel, cancel. Find the customer service number for your bank or credit card company, cancel your current card and have a new one sent, which will almost always be free.
With quick reporting, you’ll likely be reimbursed for any charges made after it went missing. A new card will also feature a new number, eliminating the usefulness of an old card for thieves.
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Your driver’s license is another form of information that can be dangerous in the hands of identity thieves. If your license is lost or stolen, you should contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state immediately to report it.
Since even an invalid driver’s license can be useful for criminals, it’s prudent to closely monitor your accounts and credit report after losing your license. Your DMV can also help you get a new license and renewal fees vary by state.
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