Credit Advice

Credit file freezes and name variations on your accounts

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Credit Advice

Credit file freezes and name variations on your accounts

Dear Experian,

I am getting ready to put a credit freeze on my account. I have credit cards that use my full first name and others that use the first part of my first name (that I go by). Will the freeze protect both, since my SSN is the same on all credit cards?

- ADM

Dear ADM,

Experian doesn’t create a separate credit report for each name variation. Rather, you have one credit report that will list all of the names you used to apply for credit. So, the freeze will protect your credit history regardless of the name variations that appear on your credit accounts.

However, I strongly recommend that you always use the same name when you apply for credit. One good approach is to always use your full given name when filling out a credit application.

Using different name variations makes it more difficult for Experian to match the names to your credit history. The more consistent you are with the identifying information you use when applying for credit, the easier it is to ensure your credit report is accurate and complete.

The most common example of why using name variations can create challenges is a father and son who share the same name. If the son does not use “junior” when completing an application, it is a little more difficult for Experian to determine whether the application belongs to the father or the son.

If the son lives at the same address as the father, it becomes even more difficult to know which person applied for credit. Birth dates also can be only one or two digits different, and the same is true of Social Security numbers. Consider this hypothetical example:

Robert Smith
Born: Nov. 10, 1957
Address: 101 South Street, Anywhere, USA
SSN: 123456789

Robert Smith, Jr.
Born: Nov. 10, 1977
Address: 101 South Street, Anywhere, USA
SSN: 123546789

The only differences are the “junior,” and the order of the digits in the year of birth and Social Security number. The frequency of this sort of situation is astounding.

That is why Experian doesn’t rely on only one identifier when matching information to your credit report. It considers every piece of identifying information it receives to accurately match your credit information to your credit report. We continuously test our matching criteria to get the best possible results, allowing for real variations while avoiding mixed files caused by adding information to the wrong credit history.

It is also the reason it is important for you to complete applications thoroughly and consistently. The first information in your credit report is the information you provide on those applications.

It is not unusual for name and address variations to be listed on credit reports. They won’t affect credit scores, but it’s better to avoid them when possible.

Thanks for asking.

- The "Ask Experian" team

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