If my last name was legally changed when I was a minor but I continued to use my old last name, which one should I use if I get a job?

UPDATED: May 18, 2011

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If my last name was legally changed when I was a minor but I continued to use my old last name, which one should I use if I get a job?

When I was in high school my last name was changed from my mother’s last name to my father’s last name. I have continued to use my mom’s last name on all my legal documents. However, I am old enough to work now. On my W-4 which one should I use? My dad’s last name or my mom’s? I don’t want to get in trouble with the law. I have 2 social security cards also one with my mom’s last name and one with my dad’s last name.

Asked on May 18, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You really should first do two things: get to the Social Security Administration and have this fixed and check your credit reports (all four:  Trans Union, Equifax, Experian and Innovis) and see if your other names are showing up. You can only legally have one Social Security Card and one should have been given over to the Administration when you applied for your second one. At this point, you don't want to confuse potential employers with a lengthy explanation of the name change or have them doubt who you are simply because it may cause problems when they do any background search on you. So, start with the credit reports, review your passport and driver's license, decide which one you prefer to use and make sure you make the relevant changes. Your credit report (and you can write to the agencies to clarify or correct) could say your other last names as part of the section known as "also known as"  or "aka".

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