It is possible to change aspects of your identity, such as your name and (under some circumstances) your Social Security number. But even if you change what you can, the system still links your new identity to your old identity. The only legal way to get a completely new start is if the government does it for you--for example, as part of the Witness Protection Program. It won't be easy if you want to change your identity because of bad credit or large amounts of debt. As mentioned, the new and the old identities would be linked, so your creditors will find you eventually.
- Skill level:
Get the government to provide you with a new identity. This is only possible under certain circumstances, such as in the case of abuse or identity theft. Under these circumstances, you may be able to get a new Social Security number for no fee by visiting your local Social Security office. This process will only be allowed if other options for resolving the problem have been exhausted.
Become a secret agent. As espionage is inherently clandestine, the government will provide you with a new identity.
Get in the Witness Protection Program. This is a government service to witnesses who need protection during or after a trial. Many individuals in the program live out their lives under their new identities. Obviously, this is only an option in extreme situations.
Change just your name. If you will settle for legally changing your name, this process is state specific, so find the form for your state online. After a legal name change, you must have your name changed on everything else, including your credit cards, driver's license and passport.
Tips and warnings
- Books and websites offering to sell tips on changing your identity are all scams. They require a fee to give you information that would only help a criminal. There are no ways to legally change your complete identity without the government.
- Beware of "paper-chasing" or "paper tripping," which is buying the identity of a dead child. Paper trippers literally walk through a grave yard, find a deceased child born in the same year as you and resurrect the child's identity.
- Beware of sites offering to sell you fake IDs. They are usually poor quality rip-offs with a slim chance of ever achieving anything, especially if the goal in mind is to change your identity.
- Don't just take over someone else's identity and pretend to be that person. This is known as identity theft and is illegal. This includes using another person's information for criminal activity, financial transactions, identity cloning or business identity.