There are many reasons a person would change their name, such as assimilation to a new environment, legal issues, fear of discrimination, etc. And while most of our other articles focus on finding ancestors who’ve changed their names, could someone find us if we changed our names?
If you change your name legally, and your name is changed on all of your official documents, it would be difficult for someone to find you without knowing your new legal name. However, if official or vital documents contain both new and former legal names, then it’s possible you can be found.
Of course, everything depends on the state you live in. Every state has different rules. Believe it or not but changing your name is a simple procedure. You don’t need a lawyer to help you, but we will warn you it will take a lot of paperwork.
When it comes to changing a name, there are frequently asked questions on this topic, and in this article, we will provide you with the answers! Let’s start!
Can I Change My Name Without Anyone Knowing?
Depending on the state the person lives in, some courts allow sealing the name change documentation upon request. In contrast, others require some official public notice, such as an advertisement in a local newspaper.
In general, if the judge approves, the name change is confidential. If we change our social security number, then we will be hard to find. People often look for someone through their family members and friends first.
There can be a situation when someone will look for us to find their family history. In this case, they will use tools like social media search, search engines, and city directories, not genealogy websites like FamilySearch.
The golden rule of finding someone is to collect as much data as possible about the person, like an address, phone number, place of birth, etc. In some cases, people hire a private investigator.
Adults are allowed to change their name legally, but there are also cases when someone changes their name by simply using a different name. For instance, a person can take a partner’s name although unmarried. This scenario makes it difficult to find that person because the records of a name change don’t exist.
The above scenario makes it difficult to find that person because the records of a name change don’t exist.
What Happens to Your Identity When You Change Your Name?
Our identity means who we are as a person; a name is something that is given to us. Changing our name will change our identity to some extent, but we will remain the same person with a new name or SSN. We will need to update records like a driver’s license, passport, and bank account.
What identity is, depends on from which perspective we’re looking. When we change a name legally, we can also change official documents like social security cards, birth certificates, passports, etc. In this regard, our identity is different.
Our focus here is not the legal background of identity change but the genealogical one. In the genealogical sense, identity depends more on culture, religion, and tradition.
In this regard, our identity stays the same when we change our names. We’ll still have the same beliefs, culture, and tradition, and only our names will differ.
Changing a name feels like a fresh start and, for some people, a new identity. The topic of identity is a subjective one. Some people think their identity is new when changing their name. Others want to cut ties with their past, so they change their name so they can live in the present.
Can People Still Find You on Social Media if You Change Your Name?
When it comes to social media, most times, people can still find someone by their real name but only for a very short period of time. Also, it is possible to change a name on social media and not lose your online friends and followers.
If a person changes their name and doesn’t want to be found on social media, that is possible also. They can take preventive security precautions to manage how social media information is shared with advertisers and apps.
We advise adjusting the privacy settings on the desired social network. For example, on Facebook, we can limit who can search our profile, and we can hide our profile from search engines and block the people we don’t want online contact with.
If we want to keep our social media friends and followers, there is also a way to do this. Every social network has different privacy policies and settings, so here is a link to help us learn how to change our names and keep our friends on social media.
How Can You Tell Someone Changed Their Name?
People cannot always tell if someone has changed their name because that information can be confidential, depending on the state where the person lives. But there are search tools we can use to find out if someone changed their name.
Our advice is to respect someone’s choice of changing their name and not poke your nose around too much. For some people, changing their name is a serious matter and a necessity, like escaping from an abusive environment.
Nowadays, online search tools can help someone find out if someone has changed their name. A person can also hire a private investigator. Usually, people look for family members or ancestors and are interested in their family tree.
People can search through genealogical records, court records, detective work, or ask a family member. If a person doesn’t want us to know they’ve changed their name, we should respect their decision and stop searching.
Will Genealogists Be Able to Find Me in the Future if I Change My Name?
In the future, a genealogist may or may not find someone who has changed their name. It depends on the state rules where they changed their name and what search tools the genealogist uses.
Finding someone who changed their name can be a game of numbers. Sometimes we’ll succeed, and sometimes we don’t. But the reality is that thanks to advanced technology, it is most likely that a genealogist will find us in the future.
Genealogy researchers rely on many methods, from traditional to modern. They still use the so-called traditional method, asking a family member, because it’s effective.
The modern search tools genealogists use are online census records, DNA testing, genealogy websites, google searches, social media searches, digitized newspapers, online mapping, and family tree databases.
In most cases, an experienced genealogist will find someone who changed their name, but there is always a percentage when that doesn’t occur for many reasons. Some people don’t want to be found, and they hide their tracks very well.
Will Family Members Be Able to Find Me in the Future if I Change My Name?
In the future, family members may or may not find their ancestors if they have changed their names. The same applies to a family member as to any genealogist; it depends on the rules in the state where they changed their name and what search tools were used.
If a family member suspects an ancestor has changed their name, there are ways they can find out. Of course, this will take time, especially if they don’t hire a professional genealogist. However, they have easier access to some official records.
A family member will probably start their search with a more traditional approach: looking for all possible genealogical information like documents. These documents are death certificates, marriage records, and census records.
If there is no luck searching in the records, there are others, such as old newspapers, asking friends, neighbors, and relatives. And let’s not forget the online search tools available for everyone.
To better understand how future people could find you, here’s how we currently find ancestors who have had name changes in the past: How to Find an Ancestor Who Changed Their Name.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
If we change our name, it’s possible that someone will find us. Some people change their names because they don’t like it, it’s as simple as that, or it can be much more complex. There are situations when people change their whole identities out of necessity.
It’s important to note that changing a name doesn’t mean legal and financial obligations are magically gone; they stay the same. This is one of the reasons why some states require identity change to be advertised in the newspaper as a matter of caution, so they don’t avoid their responsibilities.
Changing a name is confidential, so the public can’t find the person’s real name. But that doesn’t stop them from searching for it online. They are ways to hide and block a real name from social media.
For whatever reason we decide to change our name, in the future, there is a possibility someone will find out what our real name is. It can be done through a google search or by hiring a professional investigator or genealogist.
There are many reasons why people change their names, and many tools exist to find that person. We advise caution when researching someone, especially if that person is still alive. Always talk with an expert first!
Speaking of names, here are some other articles we wrote about them.
- How to Find an Ancestor Who Changed Their Name
- How Far Back Do Surnames Go? A Brief History
- Last Names that Come from Nature: 15 Origin Stories
- 50 Last Names that Come from Jobs: A Brief History
When learning about genealogy, it’s important to learn from various reputable sources. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as genealogists.
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- Crume, R. (2021, June 28). 15 Tech Tools That Transformed Genealogy. Family Tree Magazine. https://familytreemagazine.com/resources/15-tech-tools-that-transformed-genealogy/
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- Myths And Realities of Identity Change. (n.d.). National Network to End Domestic Violence. https://nnedv.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Safety-Net-NNEDV_IdentityChange_MythsAndRealities.pdf
- ONeill, L. (2019, February 5). How to Find an Ex-Husband. Our Everyday Life. https://oureverydaylife.com/exhusband-5552522.html
- Rivera, L. (n.d.). How Genealogy Can Strengthen Research Skills and Identity in Kids. https://www.whitbyschool.org/passionforlearning/how-genealogy-can-strengthen-research-skills-and-identity-in-kids
- wikiHow. (2019, March 29). 3 Ways to Make It Harder for People to Find You on Facebook. https://www.wikihow.com/Make-It-Harder-for-People-to-Find-You-on-Facebook
- You Suspect Your Ancestor Changed His Name – Now What? (2021, October 6). Are You My Cousin? https://lisalisson.com/you-suspect-your-ancestor-changed-his-name-now-what/