In this digital age, the thought of losing your birth documents, like your Social Security card or birth certificate, seems like a low-risk affair to some. But it can have far-reaching consequences that you might not have considered yet.
A big concern to keep in mind is identity theft. If you’ve ever known someone who has been a victim of this, then you know just how much effort is involved in fixing this situation. That is why it is so important to reduce the chances of this happening to you. The best way to do this is by keeping your birth documents safe from theft or loss.
But it does happen anyway, it’s also vital to know the steps you need to take to protect yourself. Here are 5 tips that will help you do this:
Report the Loss Fast
If your birth certificate or Social Security card goes missing, you must act fast. Report the document as missing – or stolen, if that’s the case – immediately to the proper authority. Reporting the loss will help you protect yourself. It also lets the government know that someone may have your lost document. This gives them a warning and ensures that the proper steps are taken to keep someone else from using your identity for nefarious purposes.
In case of a lost Social Security card, you should also claim your “My SSA’ profile on the official Social Security Authority’s (SSA) website. This will give you a chance to check the accuracy of your annual earnings history, print your benefits statements, and change your address if necessary.
Replace your Lost Documents
Replacing your lost birth documents can be a lengthy process. The good news is that the SSA provides you with up to three card replacements per year for free. The bad news, however, is that there is a long to-do list of needs that you have to compete before they even accept your request for a new card.
That said, you can make the process less overwhelming by printing out a temporary Social Security card over at application-filing-service.com. This will give you enough time to track down everything you need to complete your application. This will include documents that verify your age, identity, and citizenship.
Despite the difficulty, reporting and replacing these important documents is vital. If you act fast and remain proactive, you can keep any identity theft or fraud from happening.
Monitor your Credit Report
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your credit report, but more so if your birth documents are lost or stolen. This will help you spot any signs of fraud early on, giving you enough time to take the necessary steps.
You are entitled to get one free credit report every year. Take advantage of this to catch any errors and see if your information has been compromised. If this happens, then you will need to implement the next step…
Request a Credit Freeze
Make sure to contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies and request that they place a credit freeze and fraud alert on your file. You can then renew this alert after every 90 days – again, for free – until you are sure that the matter is settled. Also, keep in mind that this will not affect your credit score. Instead, it will keep lenders from accessing your credit report, which can be used for many things such as opening new accounts, applying for loans, and even renting an apartment.
Keep your New Documents Safe
Once you have completed the replacement process, you should lock your new birth documents away until you need them. In fact, you should avoid carrying them around with you. This will help to reduce the risk of you losing the documents again. However, it’s also because you really don’t need to have them with you on a regular basis. This is the best way to keep you safe from fraud and identity theft.
Photo Credit: BRUNO CERVERA J. Kelly Brito Sarah Dorweiler