Important Considerations Before Changing Your Name
Make Sure You Are Eligible
You must be over age 18 and an active participant in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) to be eligible for a confidential name change.
Consider the Risks and Benefits
Changing your name may not be an easy or lasting way to conceal you from your abuser. As a participant in the Address Confidentiality Program, you have already made hard choices to protect your safety. An attorney and/or an advocate at a domestic violence program » can help you think about the effects – good and bad – of taking the additional step of changing your name.
Understand the Limitations
Your name is not the only way your abuser could find you. In addition to, or instead of, changing your name, you might consider two other options:
- Relocate (move)
- Change your social security number
Even if you change your social security number, the Social Security Administration will link your old and new names. They may also share that information with federal and state agencies, including law enforcement. Your credit report may also link your old and new names.
If you get help from Oregon’s Department of Human Services (DHS) », such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or the Oregon Health Plan, it is important to talk to your worker about protecting your new name.
You May Still Be Found
You may not be able to change or hide all of the details about your life. Your abuser may be able to get information about you on the internet or from family members, friends or former co-workers. Your abuser might use electronic surveillance (GPS) or other technology to track you and learn your new name.
If you have minor children, your abuser may be able to find you through information about your child. In most cases, Oregon law does not allow you to change your child’s name without telling the other parent. Also, Oregon law usually lets parents see their child’s school, medical or government records. These records may have information about your name or where you live. Your abuser could also learn your new name during a divorce or custody case.
Understand the Consequences
After changing your name, it may be hard to do certain things without revealing that you have changed your identity. This could affect:
- finding a job
- buying or renting property
- getting a loan or credit
- applying for school or getting financial aid
- getting identification, like a driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, or Social Security card
- getting benefits like Social Security
Please contact us if you have any questions. We can be reached by email at ACP@doj.state.or.us or by calling 503-373-1323 or toll-free (Oregon only), 1-888-559-9090.