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What Happens if I Change My Social Security Number?
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If you’ve applied for a credit card or loan, filled out a rental application or tax forms or had internet services installed in your home, you’ve used your Social Security number.
Since your Social Security number is so closely tied to your credit history, you may be wondering if changing the number would affect your credit score. In short — it shouldn’t. That’s because the old and new numbers are cross-referenced to ensure your earnings history and other financial information isn’t lost.
We’ll explain what you need to know about changing your Social Security number, including whether it can affect your credit score, the circumstances that qualify you to get a new number and how to apply for a new number.
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Will a new Social Security number affect my credit?
Getting a new Social Security number (SSN) won’t help or hurt your credit score, though you’ll want to be sure that your new information appears correctly on your credit report. When issuing a new SSN, the Social Security Administration (SSA) links your old number to your new one so you’ll still be associated with all wages earned. As long as you let lenders know that you’ve changed your number, credit bureaus will be able to connect your credit history to your new SSN.
Your credit report includes both personal information and details about your financial accounts. You can request a free copy of your credit report once per year from the three credit bureaus by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
Applying for a loan or credit account using your new Social Security number could incorrectly indicate to some companies that you don’t have any credit history, which may hurt your chances of being approved or receiving a good interest rate. You should inform the lender that your current Social Security number is linked to your older number, which is connected to your credit history.
Am I eligible for a new Social Security number?
The SSA only issues new numbers under a few limited circumstances:
- You and a family member have sequential numbers and are experiencing problems as a result.
- You and another person are assigned or are using the same number.
- You are a victim of identity theft and your number is being used fraudulently.
- You are being subjected to abuse, harassment or life endangerment.
- You have religious or cultural concerns about your specific number.
If your Social Security card was lost or stolen, you’ll need to provide written documentation that someone else has used it in order for you to be eligible for a new number. You can’t request a new number simply to avoid bankruptcy or other legal responsibilities.
How to get a new Social Security number
If you meet the criteria above, you can request a new Social Security number for free by following these steps:
- Apply in-person at your local Social Security office.
- Complete the application for a Social Security card.
- Provide a statement explaining why you need a new Social Security number.
- Provide third-party evidence documenting your reasons for needing a new number.
- Provide personal documentation, including your U.S. citizenship or work-authorization immigration status, age, identity and evidence of a legal name change (if applicable).
If your application is approved, you should receive your new number within 10 to 14 business days.
What should you do after changing your Social Security number?
Once you receive your new Social Security number, you should notify banks, credit card companies and other lenders so they can update your accounts and associate all future payments with that number. Additionally, you should inform the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your credit report to make sure it’s accurate and up to date (whether you get a new Social Security number or not). Credit reporting errors, like an incorrect or outdated SSN, may negatively affect your credit score.
When you get a new SSN, you should also update your information with any individual or company that uses your number, including your employer, insurance companies and even your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
Is it a good idea to get a new Social Security number?
The SSA has a high bar for issuing new Social Security numbers, so if you can meet their criteria, you likely have a good reason.
That said, some credit scams could get you into trouble. If you have poor credit, you may have seen credit repair companies promising to provide you with a credit privacy number (CPN) so you don’t have to use your SSN. These numbers are often stolen, and they’re illegal to use.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts for repairing bad credit, and changing your SSN won’t change your credit history. Getting out of debt and building better credit habits can improve your score over time.