Changing Your Name? Avoid Identity Theft in the Process

by Paige Calahan

If you're getting married and plan to change your name after the wedding, there are a few things you should know about the process to avoid identity theft and fraud. Changing your name isn't difficult, and with these tips you'll reduce the risk of falling victim to scammers.

How Thieves Commit Name-Changing Fraud

State law enables men and women to change their names through the courts or marriage, according to nolo.com. The court method is the preferred way to change a name for identity thieves, because it is a relatively simple process. Petitioners make a request to the court, fill out paperwork and see a judge to change their name.

Because changing your name is so simple, thieves take advantage of the opportunity by obtaining your Social Security number and using it to secure loans and open up new lines of credit.

Do the Paperwork Personally

Although services are available to help you change your name on all of your documents, a recent Lifelock Twitter post suggests you work on the paperwork in person. Do not turn to outside sources to change your name, because it exposes your personal data to a third party—and fourth, fifth and sixth parties. This in turn increases the chances that one will take or sell your information to a scam artist who will then steal your identity.

By doing all of the paperwork personally, you are limiting your risks. It is less likely that a thief will steal your identity at the Social Security office or other official offices.

Change Your Name With Social Security First

The New York Times suggest you change your name first with the Social Security Administration, and then hit the other offices you need to visit. Many will require or accept a new Social Security card as proof of a valid name change. This also ensures your taxes are not unnecessarily complicated due to any change to your spouse’s last name.

Changing Your Driver’s License

The Times next suggests you change your name at the local Department of Motor Vehicles. Since state laws vary on the appropriate time to change your license and identification, call your local DMV office and ask about the details. You might be able to change your name early with a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

Obtain Identity Theft Protection or Detection Services

Changing the rest of your documents after you have your new state-issued ID and Social Security card is primarily about providing a copy of the two cards. Until all your documents are in order and a few months have passed, MShale.com suggests that you use an identity theft protection service to alert you to any suspicious activity, especially if you feel your information was compromised during the process of changing your name.

If you decide to change your name after getting married, take these measures to protect your identity. The change to your marital status is only the first step of starting your life with your new spouse.