Why Previous Names Appear on Your Credit Report

Dear Experian,

I am married for a second time. Can having my maiden name and two married names negatively affect my credit score? My "middle" score is 780 but I am trying to improve to 800 plus.


Dear TEV,

Identifying information, such as your name, has no impact on credit scores. Your credit report will list all of the name variations reported to Experian by your creditors, so your maiden name and both married names may appear. That is important for two reasons.

First, Experian uses all of the identifying information reported to it to compile a complete credit report. Some accounts from lenders may be reported in your current married name, while others still may be associated with your maiden name or previous married name.

By maintaining those names, Experian is able to match them to any accounts that may not have been converted yet to your current name by your lenders and include them in your credit report.

If Experian were unable to match accounts under your previous names, it could hurt your credit scores.

The second reason Experian shows all of the names reported as belonging to you is that it can tip you off to fraud. Name variations and unknown names can be an indicator that an identity thief is using your identity to apply for new credit. If that happens, the list of names on your report can enable you to take rapid action to prevent ongoing credit fraud.

Because identifying information has no bearing on credit scores, changing your name or removing names reported previously will not cause them to get better. You can only improve credit scores by improving your credit account history.

To know what to focus on from your particular credit history, you could purchase a credit score. They are available from a number of sources, including Experian.

The score will be accompanied by a thorough report that explains exactly what from your credit history is most affecting the credit score you received. By concentrating on those issues, you can improve your creditworthiness and any credit scores calculated using the information from your credit report.

However, you have little room for improvement, so it may be difficult to increase your score very much in a short period of time.

A possible way to inch higher is to get higher limits on your revolving accounts and lower your outstanding balances by charging less each month. That gives you a lower utilization ratio, which also is called your debt-to-limit ratio.

It's important to understand that lenders establish a threshold credit score for approving accounts. That threshold can differ from lender to lender depending on the lender's level of risk tolerance and the credit scoring system they use.

If your score is above that threshold, you will get the best rates and terms. Making your score higher won't cause you to get even better rates or terms. I suspect your scores are above just about any lender's threshold based on what you've said in your question.

So, unless you just enjoy the challenge of trying to get a higher score, you don't need to worry about the number. Just keep doing what you have been doing, enjoy the convenience of well managed credit, and your credit scores will take care of themselves.

Thanks for asking.
The "Ask Experian" team