How to Get a New Social Security Number

If you need a new social security number due to identity theft, be prepared to jump through some hoops to get one

In a recent article, I outlined what you should do if your Social Security Number has been hijacked. But what if the identity thief has irrevocably ruined that number for you, by running up bills in your name or otherwise performing illegal acts? Can you get a new number to help limit the damage?

Yes, you can. But don't expect it to be easy, because the Social Security Administration is very reluctant to hand out an SSN if you already have one. That's understandable, because it messes things up all up and down the line.

Jump Through This Hoop, Please

Think about all the organizations that use your SSN these days, for one reason or another. There's all the government agencies (federal, state, and local), most of your creditors, your bank, all the major credit reporting companies, and anybody else who wants to keep track of you.

It's easy to see why they don't want to have you change your SSN. Fair enough.

That's why the SSA makes it difficult. In order for them to even consider it, you'll need to prove your identity, age, and citizenship (or legal immigration status), and demonstrate that you're inconvenienced by the illegal use of your old number. That's all on you, and they can still turn you down if they want.

For more info on how to change your SSN, click here to get Publication Number 05-10002, Your Social Security Number And Card, and read it thoroughly before you even try.

No, Nope, Uh-Uh

Here are the circumstances under which the SSA will certainly refuse your request:

1. You're trying to avoid the consequences of bankruptcy.
2. You're trying to duck a legal responsibility.
3. You're trying to hide from the law.
4. There's no evidence someone else is using your SSN, even if it's been stolen.

If any of those are true, don't even bother to file for a new number; you won't get one.

One final bit of advice: even if the SSA gives you a new number, it may be more trouble than it's worth. You won't be able to use the old number anymore, and that's the number that the government and any businesses you've had dealings with know you by.

You won't even necessarily be able to use the new SSN to get a fresh start credit-wise. While the new number may trip up other businesses, the credit reporting companies are very cagey, and will be happy to identify you by other information that hasn't changed, such as your name or address.

For all these reasons, getting a completely new Social Security Number as a response to identity theft should be saved back as a last resort.

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