|Posted: December 22, 2011, 9:40 pm - IP Logged|
Question is how well can a legal name change keep you private..
Instead of " (Your real name) of Carbine County, PA won the $953 million lottery", the webpages and TVs could say "John Doe of carbine County, PA won..."
anyone who then searches for a "John Doe" in carbine county finds 5,678 search results.
If your name is already common, like Joe Smith, then you're private enough already... but if your name is Jerimiah Mezinhertz it's a lot easier for someone to figure out you must be the winner.
Court ordered name changes cost $200-$700 and you can receive a new social security card, passport, drivers license, and you can change your name on your bank accounts, insurance, etc..
Your identity is tied to your Social Security Number. When you change your name, you have a new name attached to your SS#.
It is a legal and straightforward process: "Court of Common Pleas Name Change". It takes about 2-8 weeks.
You can change your name before claiming your prize, so your past history is hidden. Or you could change your name after claiming the prize.. so you have a new name and fresh start.
Best scenario is to change it before, and after... so you keep your old name clean, and also have a clean name afterwards.
Your name is Donald Farnsby. Change it to John Smith and claim your ticket. After you receive the prize money, change your name again.. you could even change it back to Donald Farnsby.
...This way, anyone who wants to find the winner will search for John Smith. First off, they will find a lot of people with that name. Second, since you only had that name for a few weeks/months, there will be very little information available to find; no accounts opened with the name, no loans taken with it, etc, no reason for there to be any records of it online or anywhere else. So the searchers would find a lot of John Smiths with histories and information, but you (John Smith) might not even show up in a search.
There are only 2 imperfections with the privacy of a name change:
-1 is that you will need to put an announcement in 2 newspapers mentioning your name change. Some states (or all) also require it to include your address. some ways to help the privacy of this are mentioned below..
-2 is that your credit reports can include both of your names. (Since a credit report is based on your SS#, rather than your name alone).
This issue can be eliminated by simply not contacting the credit bureau's about your new name (there is no legal obligation to contact them, however if you want to pass a credit check, it's almost required that you do have them update your name).
But if you change your name for the prize claim, and then immediately change your name back to your original name... there is no reason to contact the bureau's at all.
For PA residents, the public notice is required to be:
"Published in two newspapers of general circulation in said county or county contiguous thereto, one of which publications may be in the official paper for the publication of legal notices in said county."
Some counties allow you to post notices in newspapers of your choice, and some counties will post the notice for you.
If you choose the newspapers, it'd be best to choose ones which are the farthest away, and are have the fewest readers.
Some newspaper can be read online in part or full, so it'd be best to choose ones that aren't available online.