The credit reporting industry is constantly evolving to best meet the needs of consumers and help them live their best financial lives. This Pride month, CDIA wants to raise awareness on a particular issue affecting those in the LGBTQ+ community—legal name changes. American consumers have been changing their last names since before credit bureaus existed, but changing identifying information completely is part of a transition is relatively new and becoming more common.
Recently, some transgender or nonbinary people reported challenges with their credit history following the legal changing of some of their identifying information. Experts at the three nationwide credit bureaus mobilized to learn more about this issue. They found that sometimes during or follow a person’s transition, the credit file attached the credit file attached to the person’s new name does not contain the credit history associated with the former name, or pre-transition name.
Common advice around traditional name changes – last names – suggests that a person notify their banks and creditors of their new legal name. This is good advice if a person only changes their last name, such as after a marriage or divorce. In that situation, the credit bureaus will learn of the name change and automatically update the person’s credit file. However, in cases which involve changing more than just the last name, we recommend an alternative approach.
To ensure a smooth transfer of their credit history following the change of identifying information, the best action a transgender or nonbinary person can take is to directly inform the nationwide credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) after completing an identity change. This small but important step provides the critical link needed between a chosen name and a former name, which will help to maintain the integrity of their credit file during transition and potentially avoid any misunderstanding with creditors or lenders.
Informing the credit bureaus of an identity change can be done using their online customer support systems or by calling the credit bureaus directly. Either way, documentation of the new legal name will be required. This documentation can include things like a court order, an updated Social Security card, or the updated Driver’s License or state issued ID with the new identifying information.
CDIA and the credit reporting industry understand that we are in a unique position to address credit issues facing people in the LGBTQ+ community and to advocate for their financial inclusion. To live up to our industry’s standards of protecting all consumers, we will continue to keep our eyes and ears open and act swiftly on correcting obstacles to financial prosperity.