How to Legally Change Your Social Security Number

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will allow you to legally change your social security number only in very specific circumstances. The SSA will not normally change social security numbers, but they will make exceptions in cases of domestic violence or identity theft. Think long and hard before you change your social security number because it can have long-term consequences that you don't anticipate. The process of changing your number is not incredibly difficult, but you will need to provide proof that you are a victim of domestic violence or identity theft.

Things You'll Need

  • Evidence or proof of domestic violence or identity theft Birth certificate U.S.-issued Driver's license or passport

Instructions

  1. In Cases of Domestic Violence

    • 1

      Gather the documents you will need to make your case for a new social security number. The Social Security office will need to see several documents to verify your age and identity, including your birth certificate and a U.S.-issued driver's license or U.S. passport. You will also need to provide proof that you have experienced domestic violence, including police reports, court filings or medical records. Statements from friends, family members or domestic violence shelters are also accepted.

    • 2

      Visit your local Social Security office and explain that you wish to change your social security number because you are a victim of domestic violence. A list of Social Security offices is included below under Resources. They will ask you to complete the SS-5 application and write a statement explaining the circumstances of your abuse and why you need a new number.

    • 3

      Present the required documentation you collected in Step 1 to the Social Security clerk and sign the application and statement.

    • 4

      Wait for your new social security card to arrive in the mail approximately 10 to 14 days after you submit the application. The card will be sent to the address listed on the SS-5 application, so make sure that is a safe address where you can receive mail without your abuser seeing it.

    Victims of Identity Theft

    • 1

      Ensure you meet the criteria for changing your social security number as a result of identity theft. The SSA will only allow you to change your number if you can prove that you are currently being victimized by identity theft, resulting in personal or financial hardships. They will not allow you to change your number to prevent identity theft that you are worried might occur in the future.

    • 2

      Take all the steps required to address identity theft before you contact the Social Security office. They will require proof that you have already filed a police report, notified the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the crime, contacted each of the credit reporting bureaus--Equifax, TransUnion and Experian--to place a fraud watch on your account and reported the fraud to every creditor that was impacted by the identity theft. The contact information for the FTC and credit reporting bureaus is included under Resources. Keep copies of the police report and all correspondence so you can provide it to the Social Security office.

    • 3

      Bring the documents described in Step 2 to your local Social Security office along with your birth certificate and a U.S.-issued driver's license or passport. Tell the clerk that you want to change your social security number due to identity theft. The clerk will have you fill out application SS-5 and write a statement describing the identity theft and how it has impacted you financially or personally.

    • 4

      Wait for your new social security card to come in the mail. It should take approximately 10 to 14 days to arrive after you have submitted your application.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have questions or concerns about the process of legally changing your social security number, contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.
  • Changing your social security number may present problems for you in the future. You will have no credit history under your new number, so it may be very difficult to secure credit cards, car loans or mortgages. Changing your number with SSA will not automatically change it with the IRS, banks or credit bureaus. The Identity Theft Resource Center does not recommend changing your social security number because of identity theft. For cases of domestic violence, you will have to decide if changing your number is a good idea based on your personal safety concerns.
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