In this article:
When you change your name, you'll want to make sure all the businesses you work with have your new information. When it comes to your finances, notify all your creditors you've changed your name so your credit reports will also reflect the change. Also ask them if there are any forms or documentation you need to complete to ensure their records are updated.
Though changing your name won't impact your credit, you should know what to look out for and take all the proper steps to ensure you're able to use your new name without issue.
How to Update Your Name on Your Credit Report
When you want to legally change your name due to marriage, divorce, gender transition or another reason, you don't have to contact the credit bureaus to update your credit reports. Credit bureaus receive information about your accounts directly from creditors you have relationships with, including credit card companies, student loan providers and mortgage servicers among others. When your personal information that's stored with a creditor changes, the new information should eventually be reflected in your credit report.
Gender transitioning can pose additional challenges when updating records. If a person is changing their entire identity and establishing a new name, updating their Social Security information and other documents, a new credit history could be established. They would need to work with their lenders to move existing accounts and their account history to the new identity to be sure they were reported on the new credit report.
To ensure your name is changed on your credit report, you need to follow all the steps required in your state to formally change your name. These typically include the following:
- File the appropriate name change documents with your state. The details of this process vary by state, but typically you need to receive a court order to legally change your name. You'll need to provide the courts with the reason you want to change your name, along with any additional documents your state may require. To find out more information about the process in your state, contact your local courthouse.
- Update your Social Security card. The Social Security Administration will require you to provide documentation of your name change when you ask for a new Social Security card. Documents that prove a legal name change include a marriage certificate, divorce decree, certificate of naturalization or court order for a name change.
- Update any other identification cards. Once your Social Security card reflects your new name, you should be able to update your other forms of identification, such as your driver's license. Government entities often require documentation of a name change, so save the documents you used to update your Social Security card as they may come in handy later on.
Once you've followed all the steps to legally change your name and update your identification, inform any companies you have accounts with of the change. It's a good idea to contact them all—from Amazon to your doctor's office to your bank—but any accounts that deal with finances should be of top priority.
Keep in mind that although the steps outlined above are usually required to legally change your name, you may not have to go that far if, for instance, you just want to start using your nickname on certain documents. If you're altering your name or switching to a nickname to be used socially, you could do this informally and still maintain your legal name on important documents.
Will Changing Your Name Affect Your Credit?
Changing your name will not impact your credit. Your credit reports use multiple pieces of identification information, including your Social Security number, to compile your credit history. When you change your name, that new information may be added to your credit reports—but the change won't result in a new credit file being opened or previous account information being removed from the score calculations.
Your previous name will continue to be reported with your credit history, but your new name will become the primary name on the report. Experian lists all names and name variations associated with your identifying information so that you have a complete record of what has been reported. Any nicknames or variations you have used in the past will also remain a part of your credit history (unless they are inaccurate).
How to Dispute an Inaccurate Name on Your Credit Report
While you can't remove accurate previous names, or name variations, from your credit reports, you can dispute inaccurate information—misspellings, for example, or incorrect names that appear in your credit file as a result of fraud.
To dispute a name in your report, you need to file a dispute with each credit bureau that lists the inaccurate information. Make sure to check all of your credit reports to see which reports may have the inaccurate information listed.
If you aren't sure what names are listed in your Experian credit report, you can easily check by getting a free copy of your credit report from Experian. Once you gain access to your report, look for the section that lists your names, and you'll see any variations or different names that have been reported as part of your credit history.