Regardless of whether a shareholder loses his or her stock certificate, that person still owns the shares. However, in order to replace the physical certificate, the shareholder must contact the company's stock transfer agent.

The corporation should be able to provide the shareholder with information on how to contact the transfer agent. The best strategy is to contact the company's investor relations department..

Upon notifying the transfer agent of the loss, the agent will place what is called a "stop transfer" on the certificate to prevent others from cashing it in. This is much like the stop payment that you might place on a check at your local bank. The transfer agent or the broker-dealer will then notify the SEC of the lost or missing certificates.

There is some information that the shareholder must also provide.

First, the shareholder must describe the loss and any facts surrounding the loss in an affidavit. Second, the shareholder must purchase an indemnity bond. The purpose of the bond is to protect the corporation and the agent in case the lost certificate is somehow redeemed by another party at a later date. (Think of it simply as additional insurance). Note: The cost of this bond is typically 1-3% of value of the shares.

In any case, when this information has been provided, a new certificate will then be issued.

Remember to photocopy both sides of the certificate when you receive it. This may help speed up the re-issuance process should the certificate be lost or stolen. You may also hold the security in street name. That way, your brokerage firm will hold the physical security for you.

For further reading, see What Owning A Stock Actually Means.

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