What Happens to My Credit Score If I Get a New Social Security Number?
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.
These nine digits, originally created to track what a worker earns over their lifetime to help determine benefits, are also associated with much of your financial life, including your credit history.
For example, you have to provide your Social Security number to apply for credit and to obtain your credit report, although some lenders may be willing to work with you even if you don’t have or submit your number.
Because your Social Security number is closely tied to your credit history and your credit score, changing your number can impact your finances. Let’s break down what happens to your credit score if you get a new Social Security number.
What happens to my credit if I get a new Social Security number?
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.”
To ensure this happens, 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.
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.
When you can get a new Social Security number
The SSA does issue new numbers under limited circumstances:
- If you and a family member have sequential numbers and are experiencing problems as a result
- If you and another person are assigned or are using the same number
- If you are a victim of identity theft and your number is used fraudulently
- If you are being subject to abuse, harassment or endangerment
- If 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.
When you apply for a new number, you’ll have to provide a statement and evidence to support your claim as well as proof of your identity.
Of course, if for some reason you don’t have a Social Security number, you can apply for your original card.
The bottom line
Getting a new Social Security number is not an easy process, nor is it a decision to take lightly. The government will only issue new numbers under specific circumstances. If you are approved, you’ll need to take a few additional steps to protect your credit history.
If you do have a good reason to apply for a new number, consider the implications for your financial well-being before you move forward.