In the United States most people are required to have a social security number, and for taxation purposes even children might need to get a number within the first year or two of life, so this number can serve as proof of the child’s existence. People obtain this number by applying for a social security card. The card is a simple blue paper card that has name and social security number of the front and a place for a signature. When ordering the cards for children, the signature space should be left blank.
People apply for a social security card through a local branch of the social security department, and unless the applicant is under the age 12, an in person application is expected. To make this process easier, people may download online forms from the social security website. There are specific requirements toward confirming identity, and these usually include requests to see a birth certificate and identification card from a state or a driver’s license. The agency may accept alternatives.
For children under 12, the only requirement in obtaining a social security card could be a birth certificate. Many hospitals also allow parents to fill out card paperwork right after a child is born, and there is usually no need to provide additional documents. Different requirements for getting a card can exist if people were born somewhere else and/or are not US citizens.
There are a number of circumstances where people might be required to show their card. They are especially important when applying for jobs, and they made be used in other ways. On their own, they aren’t a source of identification, and while people are used to carrying around cards like driver’s licenses, the social security card should only be carried when absolutely needed. Many applications, such as for loans, don’t require showing the card, and only ask people to provide their social security number.
What this means for most people is that once a card is received, it should be put in a safe place, and the nine-digit number should be memorized. Carrying around the card is ill advised — if it is accidentally lost or stolen, someone else could use the number to commit identity theft.
When people do lose a social security card, the website does have instructions for replacing it. If it has been stolen, this should be duly noted when application is made. The card is not the only means by which people gain access to other’s social security numbers. Since these numbers are frequently used to apply for jobs, credit, or to confirm identify, they may be heard and written down quite easily. The best way of preventing this may be to only give the number out in secure settings and when it is deemed necessary.