What Happens to My Credit Score If I Get a New 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 at 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 is not lost.
We explain what you need to know about changing your Social Security number, including if it can affect your credit score, what circumstances qualify you to get a new number, how to get a new number and more.
Will a new Social Security number affect my credit?
Rod Griffin, director of consumer education and awareness at Experian, said getting a new Social Security number won’t negatively impact your credit history or score.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) links your old number to your new one so you’re still associated with all wages earned. And, as long as you let lenders know that you’ve changed your number, credit bureaus will be able to connect your credit history. This is because your credit report is based on a variety of personal information, like past addresses, in addition to your financial accounts.
“It’s similar to when a person gets married and they change their name,” Griffin said. “That identifying information would be updated as well, but it wouldn’t cause you to lose your credit history.”
Just know, applying for an account or loan using your new Social Security number may indicate to some companies that you don’t have any credit history — which could hinder your changes of being approved or receiving a good interest rate. If this occurs, you’ll need to 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 Social Security Administration (SSA) only issues new Social Security numbers under the following 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 used fraudulently.
- You are being subject to abuse, harassment or endangerment.
- You have religious or cultural concerns about your specific number.
If your Social Security card was lost or stolen, you need evidence that it is being used by someone else to be eligible for a new number. You also 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 a 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).
Once your application has been 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 of your new number so they can attach it to your accounts and associate all future payments with that number. Additionally, you should inform the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
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). Bruce McClary, vice president of communications at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, notes that if information is missing or incorrect, it could impact your credit score.
Another thing to consider if you get a new Social Security number: You’ll have to update your information with any individual or company that uses your number, including your employer, insurance companies and even your state DMV.
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 (more on this below), you likely have a good reason.
That said, there are scams out there that could get you into more trouble. For example, if you have poor credit, you may have seen credit repair companies promising to provide you with a credit privacy number (CPN), which, like a Social Security number, can be used to apply for credit. These numbers are often stolen.
McClary notes that changing your Social Security number is not a “magic bullet” for repairing bad credit, especially if there’s a risk of fraud or if you intend to avoid legal action related to your finances.
“I encourage people in those situations to inform themselves of the consequences that are associated with Social Security fraud and misrepresenting personally identifying information,” he said.