QUESTION: If I change my SSN what happens to my debt? I received a letter in the mail today about an inquiry for credit that I never requested. I don’t know if someone else has my information and/or what damage may have been done that I haven’t noticed. I know I have some debt of my own, but would changing my social security number be like a poor man’s bankruptcy or would it still follow me over to the new number?
ANSWER: The Social Security Administration does not allow anyone, even victims of identity theft, to switch out their old social security number for a new one very easily. While it may be possible to get a new SSN, it is extremely difficult and rare.
I would suggest you pull a free copy of your credit reports through www.AnnualCreditReport.com. That website was designed to follow Federal Trade Commission regulation to allow every consumer one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every 12 months. It will link you directly to TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
In reviewing your credit reports, you will want to see whether there are any new accounts that you do not recognize. You can also have a look at the back of the credit report to see whether there are inquiries made by companies that you did not authorize. Hard inquiries are usually made before a lender extends new credit. There are also soft inquiries that are usually made by your existing lenders just to check up on you.
You can request a short-term or long-term fraud alert be linked to your social security number. You should also call the company that mailed you the letter and ask what it’s all about. If you are going to let that bank, or anyone else know that your identity has been stolen, you should send certified mail with a return receipt so that you have a paper trail. You may also want to file a police report that you can attach to your letter to lenders and the major consumer reporting agencies.
Finally, you may want to consult with an attorney. Most attorneys who handle consumer credit and debt collection abuse cases do not charge their clients an up front fee. The reason for this is because the Fair Credit Reporting Act (as well as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) allow consumers to collect damages as well as their attorney fees and court costs.
I wish you luck.
These materials have been prepared by Karni Law Firm, P.C. for educational and informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. This communication does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dana Karni or of Karni Law Firm, P.C. or any of its attorneys, employees, or clients, and are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. This site is not intended to create, and access to or receipt of information included in this site does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. No one should act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. Although we would be pleased to communicate with you by e-mail or otherwise, do not send us information until you speak with one of our lawyers and get authorization to send that information to us. Please be aware that if you communicate with us by e-mail or otherwise in connection with a matter for which we do not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential. If you communicate with us by e-mail in connection with a matter for which we already represent you, please remember that Internet e-mail is not secure and you may wish to take steps to encrypt sensitive or confidential materials before sending them on the Internet.