Can You Legally Change Your Social Security Number?

By Michael Staib

Victims of identity theft may wish to change their Social Security number (SSN). Because of the severe financial abuse and adversity that frequently accompany identity theft, this may prove a worthwhile consideration. However, the change entails consequences.

Conditions

The Social Security Administration (SSA) sometimes assigns a new SSN at its discretion, if your situation or personal predicament warrants it. A person may legally change a Social Security number under certain conditions. The Social Security Office requires confirmation of age, identity, U.S. citizenship and lawful immigration status. The SSA prohibits a SSN change for avoidance of the effects of filing bankruptcy, to circumvent the law and legal responsibility, or if no evidence exists that anyone illicitly used the number. You must sufficiently substantiate that your disadvantaged condition directly results from your number having been illegally exploited.

Requisite Steps

Always consult a qualified attorney when pursuing any kind of legal action. Seek an identity theft lawyer who specializes in Social Security fraud issues. Changing your SSN first requires you to formally request a new number with the SSA. Secondly, to eradicate all the fraudulent activity associated with your previous number, you must permanently clear your employment history. This step involves transferring your employment history from the old SSN file into a new one, listed under Work History Record. Additionally, all illegal conduct incurred under the old one should go into a SSA general file, separate and distinguished from your SSN file. Ask that the SSA flag the old SSN file for misrepresentation, indicating that anyone who uses it is an imposter. Understand that the old number remains active. The SSA never terminates a number from its system. Additionally, request a letter from the SSA stipulating that they issued another number, that they understand you no longer use the old one, and referring to your new SSN. You need to track down any banks, credit card companies or government agencies retaining the old number on file.

Driver's License

Visit the DMV or Department of Transportation and obtain a new driver's license with your new information, which may possibly erase history, replacing it with new information, usually via a renewal notice.

Credit Reporting Agencies

Change your Social Security number with the three main credit reporting agencies; Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. Two options exist. You may choose to completely abandon your credit history and begin anew. This alternative affords the opportunity for young people to escape their financial problems and reestablish credit, which slowly re-accumulates with time. However, if you are older, this strategy may risk blending old and new accounts, thereby jeopardizing your report. The second strategy involves collaborating with credit reporting agencies to remove old credit reports. This approach involves direct correspondence to prevent merging information, report new information and commence new credit reports under your new SSN.

Changing Identity

In certain cases of domestic violence it is possible to apply to the SSA for a new Social Security number if you can prove that you are in danger. Consult a domestic violence advocate. A change of identity involves numerous risks and the potential for a new assortment of problems. Changing your SSN in this case deletes your entire identity history including everything recorded since birth. This is a life-altering decision that influences many facets of life. It may prevent you from obtaining a passport or other federal documentation, without any birth certificate associated with your new identity. It means finding another job and moving to a different community, permanently abandoning your relatives and closest friends. It even precludes the possibility of your children's eligibility for scholarships.

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