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How to obscure name change record?:

That they are available for public viewing is inconvenient to a short story I'm fiddling with. If it's absolutely impossible in the US maybe there's some other country I could relocate the setting to? (But I'd prefer to keep things stateside for other reasons).
"They called me mad, I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me." - Nathaniel Lee, playwright, upon being committed to Bedlam in
I think maybe you could still have your name changed in a courthouse in a small backwater town where they donít store records digitally. Get an ID with the new name, and then have the courthouse burn down.

Or you could just do it illegally. Buy one or two fake documents (such as a Social Security card/ birth certificate) and use them to get real ones.

Ah, the first may work. I knew about the second which was obscuring my ideas for legal ways to achieve this.
"They called me mad, I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me." - Nathaniel Lee, playwright, upon being committed to Bedlam in
 4 Ralph Crown, Sun, 30th Jan '11 9:35:53 AM from Next Door to Nowhere
Short Hair
Is the point to make it look like the original identity has died or disappeared, or to create a new identity from scratch, or to erase any connection between the original identity and the new identity, or something else? The strategy is different for each option.

It's possible to make a legal document disappear, but it's much harder to remove all trace that the document was ever there. In other words, the document per se is more persistent than its contents.
Under World. It rocks!
It's to make it so "John Doe has always been John Doe and if he did have a name change in the past his previous name certainly wasn't Jack Doe and you can't prove it was."...

Also, if I have the record burn wouldn't it be stored on computer somewhere? I just thought of that today which is why I came back to this topic...
"They called me mad, I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me." - Nathaniel Lee, playwright, upon being committed to Bedlam in
 6 Madrugada, Wed, 2nd Feb '11 10:42:05 PM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
That's why you pick the county courthouse of some poor, remote, rural, back-of nowhere county. They're less likely to have the redundant back-ups that a larger, wealthier county would have.
'He strutted across the bedroom, his hard manhood pointing the way' sounds like he owns a badly named seeing-eye dog. 'Sit, Hard Manhood!
It may also help if he was born in such a place.

 8 Ralph Crown, Thu, 3rd Feb '11 7:35:41 AM from Next Door to Nowhere
Short Hair
The only problem with growing up in a small town is that everyone remembers you. If anybody bothered to follow up, the story wouldn't last long. "John Doe? You say he left here in '92, when he was 18? Oh, you're talking about Jack Spratt. Couldn't be anyone else." Busted.

What you probably want is for your character to assume someone else's identity. It helps if there's a strong resemblance. Find a homeless person of the approximate age and build, get his name, track down a birth certificate, and you're practically done. Or uncover someone who is dead but not officially so, such as missing in action. In some places death certificates aren't cross-referenced with birth certificates, so find someone who died as a child but whose death can't be verified—that might be hard these days with newspaper archives (i.e. obituaries) digitized.
Under World. It rocks!
Would a small town be less likely to have digitized newspapers? Also, interesting method for things, do you know what the punishment is if someone is caught doing this?
"They called me mad, I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me." - Nathaniel Lee, playwright, upon being committed to Bedlam in
 10 Madrugada, Thu, 3rd Feb '11 9:15:32 PM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
The newspaper thing is going to depend entirely on the town. The Legal thing also depends — In Illinois it's perfectly legal to change your name to anything you want unless it's for purposes of committing fraud or evading prosecution for something else or evading a legal responsibility.

edited 3rd Feb '11 9:16:16 PM by Madrugada

'He strutted across the bedroom, his hard manhood pointing the way' sounds like he owns a badly named seeing-eye dog. 'Sit, Hard Manhood!
@ Ralph Ė all very good points

When I said it would be good to have him born in a small town I didnít mean to have him grow up there.

I was kinda thinking about myself. I was born in rural upstate New York, but raised in Rhode Island.

The hospital I was born in no longer exists. The doctor is dead. My birth certificate is a copy. I always thought that if the courthouse and the church were destroyed there would be almost no evidence I was ever born.

^^But is it legal to obscure that you had a name change? Or to obscure what your name was before you changed it?

^That could be an interesting and convenient set-up...
"They called me mad, I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me." - Nathaniel Lee, playwright, upon being committed to Bedlam in
 13 Madrugada, Fri, 4th Feb '11 7:44:11 AM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
That would depend on how you obscured it. If you don't do anything illegal in the obscuring, there's nothing illegal about it. If you do something illegal in the course of obscuring it (like setting a courthouse on fire, or vandalizing a computer system), then — well— you've done something illegal.

edited 4th Feb '11 7:44:30 AM by Madrugada

'He strutted across the bedroom, his hard manhood pointing the way' sounds like he owns a badly named seeing-eye dog. 'Sit, Hard Manhood!
What would be the legal options of obscuring it? Most of what has come up here sounds rather illegal.
"They called me mad, I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me." - Nathaniel Lee, playwright, upon being committed to Bedlam in
 15 Luthen, Sun, 6th Feb '11 9:49:29 PM from somewhere very warm
Hello again
There's also the possibility of de facto name changing. I think in Oz, if you go by a name for five years it becomes your legal name. Or something like that. My granddad did it, his birth certificate reads Cornelius but every other legal document he's touched says Michael. A friend of mine has done it as well - I think (last I heard he couldn't file the deed poll cause he had been declared bankrupt).
You must agree, my plan is sheer elegance in its simplicity! Blog. Fanfic.
 16 Ralph Crown, Mon, 7th Feb '11 9:01:41 AM from Next Door to Nowhere
Short Hair
OP said: "What would be the legal options of obscuring it? Most of what has come up here sounds rather illegal."

What you're basically asking for is a way to hide a certain piece of information that should be public. It sounds illegal because it is illegal. There's a reason one has to go to court to get one's name changed. When one uses someone else's name, it's usually for nefarious purposes. [edit: usually but not always]

If there were some compelling reason for a name change to be secret, you could theoretically go to a judge, present your case, and then have the proceedings sealed. As in one of my earlier posts, anyone could find out about the mere existence of the decision, but not the sealed contents.

edited 7th Feb '11 2:17:29 PM by RalphCrown

Under World. It rocks!
 17 Madrugada, Mon, 7th Feb '11 9:12:31 AM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
^ That's not universal though, Ralph. I know that in my state, simply using a different name consistently for a certain amount of time can be a de facto name change, provided you aren't doing so for illegal or fraudulent reasons. The only difficulty would lie in getting a new Social Security card, but that's federal regulations, not state law.
'He strutted across the bedroom, his hard manhood pointing the way' sounds like he owns a badly named seeing-eye dog. 'Sit, Hard Manhood!
Which is more important to the story: that the character obscured his own name change, or that it was obscured?

Sometimes fires, tornadoes, or other Ďacts of Godí just happen. Maybe your character is just lucky/unlucky.

 19 Dec, Mon, 7th Feb '11 6:40:02 PM from The Dance Floor
Stayin' Alive
Maybe it could be a bit obscured if the original name or the new name are insanely common? That could get a bit messy rather quick, if some huge amount of people share a name and the person looking don't have a SSN.

Also, there are probably a lot of people out there who are better known by their nickname than their actual first name. That could make outright asking people about someone challenging. My mom used to only go by the name Ginger, to the point that even her nameplate at work had it down as her first name — and that was before she legally changed her own name. Not that that stops us from getting five different magazines in the mail addressed to different instances of her name, but...*shrugs*

edited 7th Feb '11 6:40:48 PM by Dec

Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit
Deviantart.
@Ralph - That was in response to Madru suggesting there were legal ways to obscure a name change. I suppose presenting the case to the judge may work.

I'd rather he obscure it but if need be he can simply take advantage of luck.
"They called me mad, I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me." - Nathaniel Lee, playwright, upon being committed to Bedlam in
 21 Ralph Crown, Thu, 10th Feb '11 7:08:13 AM from Next Door to Nowhere
Short Hair
You can always fall back on the impossibility of proving a negative. Without some kind of evidence, nobody can prove John Doe isn't who he says he is or wasn't born where he said he was born. Just ask a certain president. Is the evidence itself important? In other words, does someone eventually learn the truth, is there blackmail or bad press, and can that happen without knowing how the truth came out?
Under World. It rocks!
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Total posts: 21
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