One way an abuser can try to hunt you down and harass you, is via your SSN, your Social Security number: with that number, he can create all sorts of mischief. If you have a really obsessive stalker type, then you can get a name change and then a new SSN. The Social Security people (www.ssa.gov) are working with domestic-violence people to get survivors new numbers. You need to apply in person to the SS office with proof of your identity, age, citizenship/alien status, name changes (do that ahead of time), evidence of child custody (if they’re getting new numbers too), and evidence of the abuse (papers from police, doctors, protective orders, or even a letter from the local shelter where you did in-take). It sounds as though this is a bit discretionary with the local SS office, so call ahead and find out what they want.
But, something that never occurred to me, is the notion that an abuser could target your kids’ SSNs too. With that in mind, read this scary story:
“In El Paso, Texas, a hacker broke into the computer network of a local school district, finding a database of about 63,000 students' Social Security numbers. In Wake County, N.C., school officials accidentally mailed out about 5,000 postcards with students' Social Security numbers printed on the front. And in Palatine, Ill., two laptops belonging to a state contractor were stolen from a car, divulging the Social Security numbers of nearly 8,000 special education students.”