Identify Yourself

If you are new to the US, you’ll surely want to be able to identify yourself. There are two main identification documents (ID) that nearly everyone living in the U.S. is expected to have: the state-issued driver’s license and the social security number (SSN) card.

Driver’s License         

If you are new to the U.S., you will need to obtain a driver’s license and a social security number. A driver’s license is more than a permit that allows you to drive a car, it also serves as the most preferable form of an identity document in this country. Department of Motor Vehicles is a government agency that administers driver licensing (as well as vehicle registration). Visit the North Carolina DMV portal to find your local DMV office and the list of documentation you will need for your driver’s license. It is also important that you study the North Carolina Driver’s Handbook to prepare for the written exam and road sign test.

Social Security Number

In the United States, a Social Security number (SSN) is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents. This number is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, an independent agency of the United States government. Although its primary purpose is to track individuals for Social Security purposes, the Social Security number has become a de facto national identification number for taxation and other purposes.

Visit the Social Security Administration’s website for step-by-step instructions on applying for a new Social Security number and card.

If you are ineligible to obtain a Social Security number (e.g. because you don’t have employment authorization), you must obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9.

Identity Theft & Phishing

Identity theft means stealing personal information, such as a Social Security number or a bank account number, and pretending to be that person. Criminals can use this information to steal money from your bank account or open a credit card in your name. Be sure to:

  • Keep your SSN card at home in a safe place
  • Do not share your SSN and other sensitive information (such as your bank account number)
  • Make sure to shred any paper that has your sensitive personal information before throwing it in the trash.

To protect yourself against identity theft, call the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338 or visit

If you receive a phone call or email or get redirected to a website requesting (or demanding) that you provide your personal information, you are being phished. Scammers may introduce themselves as government agents, bank representatives, tax inspectors, or any other formal-looking officials to make you believe that they need your personal information for a valid reason. Their website and phone number may look legitimate, but they are not real. Scammers will use your personal information to charge money, take credits, or even commit crimes in your name.

Many scams, especially phone scams, target immigrants. USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) warns people to beware of such scams:

A scammer may call you and ask for money or threaten you. They will likely have some information about you and their phone number may look like an official one. Government agencies w ill never call you to ask for money or threaten you…

If you believe that you’re being phished or otherwise scammed, you can file a complaint at To learn more about online scams or phishing, visit and

Identify Yourself

Hopefully these tips will help you navigate the process of obtaining the proper documentation to identify yourself.