Should I Change My Social Security Number?

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you’ve probably contemplated changing your Social Security Number to prevent future attacks. Unfortunately, changing your Social Security Number doesn’t necessarily protect you the way you think it might. It’s a difficult process and, if you are assigned a new number, your old Social Security Number remains assigned to you. The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t delete or void SSNs, it’s not like a credit card number.

So how do you go about changing your number? You will only be approved for a new number if you can prove that you’ve tried to resolve the problems caused by identity theft but continue to be hurt by your old social security number. The key term is “disadvantaged by misuse” and you have to have experienced financial or personal hardship within the last year. If you can’t get a mortgage loan because your ID was stolen, that’s considered “disadvantaged by misuse.” If the IRS audits you because someone else is reporting income on your SSN, that’s considered “disadvantaged by misused.” The Social Security Administration has a brief bit of information explaining other reasons why you should get a new SSN and unless you actually qualify, you won’t get a new number.

The process for changing your social security number is much like applying for a new social security number – completely Form SS-5 (Application For A Social Security Card), bring documents proving US citizenship (must be originals or certified copies), and evidence you need a new number. Bring all this to your local Social Security Office and apply for a new number.

NOTE: It’s crucial that you request a letter from the SSA explaining why you were issued a new Social Security number. (after you’ve received it) You will need this letter when you go to change over other documents, like your driver’s license, so get this in writing to help avoid headaches down the road.

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