Should You Keep Your Social Security Number in Your Wallet?

Keeping your Social Security number (SSN) in your wallet may seem convenient for quick access, but it also carries risks. Your SSN is one of your most sensitive pieces of personal information and could enable identity theft if it falls into the wrong hands. This article will help you understand the risks of keeping your SSN in your wallet and provide alternatives for safekeeping it secure.

Should You Keep Your Social Security Number in Your Wallet?

Why Your Social Security Number Requires Extra Protection

Your nine-digit SSN essentially serves as a key to unlock access to various aspects of your identity. Here are some reasons why your SSN requires careful protection:

  • Opens the door for identity theft – Possessing someone’s SSN makes it easier to open fraudulent accounts and make purchases in their name.
  • Enables access to financial accounts – Banks and other institutions frequently use SSNs as an account identifier and security question.
  • Used to access medical records and prescriptions – Healthcare providers associate medical information with patients’ SSNs.
  • Allows tracking of your earnings and work history – Government agencies like the Social Security Administration use your SSN to monitor benefits eligibility.
  • Could assist with locating your address – While no public database associates SSNs with home addresses, private databases exist that could potentially enable this linkage.

So if your wallet is lost or stolen, it could set the stage for long-term identity theft and financial fraud.

Risks of Keeping Your Social Security Card in Your Wallet

Keeping your actual Social Security card in your wallet also poses security issues:

Makes SSN More Visible and Accessible

The nine digits are clearly visible on the card for anyone who gains temporary access to your wallet, whether left briefly unattended or snatched in a robbery. Unlike keeping your SSN recorded elsewhere, the wallet card openly displays it for quicker theft.

Card Could Be Irrecoverable if Lost or Stolen

Losing your wallet means losing your Social Security card. Replacing the physical card can be a hassle by requiring you to apply for a replacement from the Social Security Administration and verify your identity.

Could Enable Both Identity Theft and Employment Fraud

Possession of your card enables misuse of your SSN for multiple forms of fraud. Identity thieves could use it to commit financial fraud under your name, while illegal immigrants may use it to unlawfully gain employment in the U.S.

Safer Alternatives for Protecting Your SSN

Rather than keep your Social Security number or card exposed in your wallet, here are smarter alternatives to consider:

Memorize your SSN and keep documentation secured at home – While your SSN may be required for opening financial accounts, you typically do not need the physical card on your person each day. Commit your 9 digits to memory and keep your SS card locked at home or in a safe deposit box.

Use online password managers for easy access – Password managers like LastPass enable you to securely store sensitive information like your SSN behind a master password. This keeps it secured from online threats yet still accessible when needed for accounts creation.

Only carry a photocopy if necessary – If required by your employer, carry a photocopy of your card with all but the last 4 digits concealed according to Social Security Administration guidelines. This minimizes how much data is exposed. Destroy and replace the copy after use.

Conceal your SSN creatively at home – Avoid slipping your SS card into easily identifiable locations like beside your passport or birth certificate. Conceal it creatively behind furniture cushions or inside lesser-used books to reduce its visibility.

Enroll in credit monitoring and identity theft protection – Proactive monitoring services like LifeLock will notify you of suspicious use of your SSN for new accounts. This allows for quicker response to fraud.

Takeaway: Keep your physical Social Security card locked up secure at home rather than on your person. Limit carrying photocopies unless absolutely necessary, and enroll in identity theft monitoring for further security.


Your Social Security number is vital for accessing many financial, medical, and government services critical to your identity security. While keeping your SSN handy in your wallet may seem convenient, doing so greatly amplifies the risks of permanent identity theft damage if you lose your wallet. Follow the safer alternative options outlined above. Never openly display your full Social Security number in easily lost or stolen locations like your wallet or purse unless absolutely necessary. Be proactive about your personal data security with thorough identity monitoring as well. Implementing these simple precautions helps protect yourself against SSN misuse and lifetimes of financial headache.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the risks of keeping your SSN card in your wallet?
Carrying your physical Social Security card poses security risks like exposing your number easily if your wallet is temporarily unattended. It also means you cannot recover the card if your wallet is permanently lost or stolen. Both identity and employment fraud also become simpler for thieves.

Is it safe to carry a photocopy of my Social Security card?
You should only carry a copy if explicitly required by your employer. Make sure to conceal all digits except the last four. Safest practice is to avoid copies unless absolutely mandatory.

What could happen if someone gets my Social Security number and uses it?
Identity theft to open fraudulent accounts, make purchases in your name, steal your tax refunds, gain medical services, and hijack your employment or financial benefits.

Where is the safest place to keep my Social Security card?
Keep your physical SSN card secured at home behind locks, with sensitive documents inside a hidden safe, or concealed cleverly. Never openly visible for guests.

Can my identity be stolen if I lose my wallet?
Yes, having your SSN, driver’s license, credit cards, and other info exposed in lost wallet magnifies the potential for financial fraud or identity theft. Freeze accounts after losing wallet.

Do I need to carry my Social Security card with me every day?
In most cases – no. Exception is if explicitly required short-term by employer. Otherwise best to keep your physical card locked securely at your home.

Should I keep my Social Security card in the same place as other sensitive documents?
Avoid storing your SS card beside documents like your passport or birth certificate in obvious places. Keep your card concealed uniquely to reduce visibility to guests or thieves.

What information do identity thieves need to steal my identity?
Having your SSN along with your name and birthday exposes the keys that identity thieves use most. Also vulnerable are details like your driver’s license, credit cards, and insurance cards.

Can someone steal my identity if they don’t have my Social Security number?
It becomes much more difficult. While still possible, lack of SSN acts as a major barrier given how pivotal it is for opening fraudulent financial or medical accounts.

What government agencies use your Social Security number?
The Social Security Administration tracks your eligibility for benefits programs using it. The IRS monitors taxes paid, the DMV licenses drivers, and Medicaid coordinates benefits.

Should I memorize my Social Security number?
Yes, memorizing your 9-digit SSN provides quick access when opening financial accounts without carrying sensitive card. But keep documentation locked securely at home rather than in your wallet.

Can someone legally work in the U.S. with a stolen SSN?
No. Many illegal immigrants will use stolen Social Security numbers to unlawfully gain employment. Notify the IRS if you suspect someone is using your SSN illegally for work.

What should I do if my Social Security number is compromised?
Immediately contact credit bureaus to place fraud alerts on your accounts if you suspect identity theft or have lost your card. Also notify financial institutions to monitor or freeze accounts vulnerable to fraud.

Is there any way to get a new Social Security number?
In very rare cases, the SSA approves issuing a new number after attempted fraud. Usually only witness protection participants, severe repeated abuse cases, or top secret security clearance situations qualify.

Can I shred my Social Security card when it expires?
No – Social Security cards do not expire. The SSA issues the same number for life so never destroy your documentation. Cards issued after 1972 lack expiration dates as your SSN does not change.

How long does it take to replace a lost Social Security card?
Expect to wait 14 business days plus mailing time to receive your Social Security card replacement. First, you must submit proper identification forms before the replacement is issued and sent. Expedited services are not offered currently.



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