There's nothing quite like that sick feeling you get when you notice something's missing - especially when that something is as important as your wallet. While credit cards can be cancelled and your driver's license can be replaced, if you carry your Social Security card with you, your number could be stolen. Even if you don't keep your card with you, identity thieves can nab your number in other ways. If you think your number has been stolen, it's time to jump into action and clean up any potential messes before one mishap threatens the health of your credit.
Both the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have hotlines set up specifically dedicated to identity theft and lost or stolen Social Security Numbers. While they won't be able to help you find your card, they can open files that help to track possible fraud and analyze the nature of identity theft. You can call the SSA at 800-772-1213 and the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 to report identity theft.
You'll need to file two different forms if your card has been physically stolen. The first is an application to get a new card, which is the SS-5 Application for a Social Security card through the SSA. That will replace the one that was stolen. Then, file a 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit, which alerts the IRS to the possibility that 1) your card has been compromised or 2) you believe it already has been used fraudulently and could affect your income taxes.
An identity thief can seriously derail your credit score, so you'll want to notify the credit reporting bureaus that your Social Security card has been stolen and that unauthorized activity may occur. Contact TransUnion, Experian and Equifax and put a fraud alert on your report.
Once you've done the legwork to put safeguards and protection in place after having your number or card stolen, the rest is up to you to watch and make sure that your report remains untouched. Remember that it could be months or even years before an identity thief makes his move, so make sure you get your free annual credit report from each bureau. Comb through it and watch for anything that you didn't authorize, which you can then dispute and have removed from your credit history.