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30 January, 2024
5 min read

Just married? A guide to changing your name safely


Clare Stouffer

Staff writer

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Picture of married couple at their wedding holding hands.

Picture this: it’s the big day. You and your partner are about to be joined in matrimony, and together you’ll embark on a new chapter of your lives...and perhaps a new name too.

Changing your name in honor of your marriage and family is a widespread tradition, but in today's digital age, it is more than just updating your signature. It can be a confusing and troublesome process with several safety pitfalls along the way. Fear not, it is possible to transform your name more gracefully than your bouquet toss and safeguard your data while doing it.

Saying “I do” to a “do it for you" service

In the hustle and bustle of wedding preparations, the allure of services that offer to "do your name change for you"  is undeniable. These offerings promise convenience, but they may inadvertently expose you to scams and risks. 

Consider it: you’re providing your social security number, driver’s license number, passport information, family history, phone number—oh, and likely your credit card info—all to a single company providing a self-described easy discount service.

For scammers, that’s a gold mine covered in diamonds and chocolate sprinkles. If you provide all of your personally identifiable information to a third party, and that company is breached or hacked, it could lead to such issues as credit card fraud, tax-related theft, and stolen identity. If you opt to use a "do it for you" service, it’s imperative to confirm they’re legitimate and do your research on their data and website security.

Additionally, some name change services are simply too good to be true and falsify the extent to which they actually “do it for you.” They’ll offer you all the tools you need to easily change your name, which ends up being a list or copies of forms you can easily find with any free web search.

Essentially, you paid $39 for a fancy compilation of forms that you still have to fill out, send, and make all the arrangements to legalize the change. In reality, the steps can be quite simple when you know where to start.

Step 1: The marriage license

Your journey begins with the issuance of the marriage license, the cornerstone of your name change. This is the place to start since there’s not really much you can do without this romantic legally binding contract.

To obtain this document, you'll need to present proof of identity, age, and sometimes even residency and/or a witness. This usually happens at a county clerk or recorder's office, but if you feel any uncertainty, it’s always a good idea to contact the local government where you’re getting married for the latest details.

After your ceremony is complete, your officiant will need to sign the license. They, or you, then need to return it to the county clerk for processing. Once you get your certified copy, it’s time to start getting your brand new IDs!

Step 2: Social Security Administration

Your next destination is the Social Security Administration (SSA). Let them know you’re ready to update your name, which will most likely require an in-person appointment, where the SSA representative will lead you through the process. This step is pivotal, for it ensures your financial and government records align with your new identity.

Step 3: Your driver's license

Next, head over to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to update your driver's license and vehicle registration. This step ensures your identity aligns seamlessly with everything you need to hit the road or get on a plane for your domestic honeymoon. Travelling internationally with your new name? You’ll want to get your passport squared away as well.

Step 4: Your finances

You just received some nice checks for your recent nuptials, made out to the happy couple, with your new last name glaringly different from the one on your bank account. What your generous-but-uninformed guests don’t know is that without a legal name change yet, you may not be able do anything but dream about what that money is going to fund, even if your partner’s name is correct.

Once your new driver’s license is in your hands, notify your banks, credit card companies, and any other financial institutions about your new name. This ensures a smooth transition in your financial records, guarding against any discrepancies or fraudulent activities.

Step 5: Marriage miscellaneous

While the list above hits the high points, there’s still plenty to update. Just like your marriage, you’re into this name change for the long game, so you might as well do it right. Check with employers, insurance companies, utility providers, and any other relevant entities. “Do it for you” services can’t possibly know every aspect of your identity ecosystem, so it’s crucial to think through these checkpoints, service or not.

Happily ever...hold on

As you can see, the name change process is a laborious one, filled with every piece of personally identifiable information you can think of. You’re calling banks, you’re dealing with your highly guarded social security number, you’re receiving all kinds of confusing mail—it's a time in which heightened security and awareness is most valuable. In this transformational process, scammers prey on those navigating the bureaucratic maze of name changes.

Scammers often target individuals who may be overwhelmed by the myriad of changes, slipping through the cracks of an already intricate process. To safeguard against potential scams, it's crucial to remain vigilant. Be wary of unsolicited emails or calls requesting personal information. Legitimate organizations will never ask for sensitive data through unsecured channels—many of the changeovers need to happen in person at an official government or business office. Double-check the authenticity of any communication, and when in doubt, reach out directly to the organization using official contact details.

More than best wishes

While LifeLock can't prevent scams or data leakage, it does monitor your personal information and alert you to potential threats, providing an added layer of security during this vulnerable period. With the emotional significance of changing your name in mind, LifeLock offers peace of mind, so you may focus on the joyous aspects of this transition without constantly worrying about potential dangers.

So, as you embark on this epic name-changing adventure, remember it's not just about updating your identity, it's about dodging scammers and security threats with the finesse of a bouquet toss. Safeguard your data, secure your new name, and let the journey to happily ever after be as smooth as your well-choreographed first dance. 

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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