Your middle name could be hurting your credit
If you don't go by your first name, or if you've recently changed your name, you have all the more reason to check your credit report.
This post comes from Jeanne Kelly at partner site Credit.com.
In the movie "J. Edgar," there is a scene when the main character is denied credit at a men’s clothing store because "John Hoover" owes the store money. He explains that he was named after his father, John, but he also sometimes goes by the name Edgar. When pushed to choose just one name, he signs his name J. Edgar Hoover.
Many of us were born with a standard name sequence: Our first name is the name we go by, then our middle name is rarely used (unless mom is yelling at us!), and then our last name.
For example, John Edgar Hoover might typically go by "John." But that's not the case for everyone, as was the case with the founder of the FBI. Someone could be called by their middle name ("Edgar," in our example).
Unfortunately, this has the potential to keep you from having the best credit possible or even to hurt your credit, just as it did for Hoover.
Although credit reporting agencies try to allow for it by reporting a primary name and aliases, it's not a perfect science to collect every variation of a person's name.
Here's how it could affect you:
- Bad credit from others could be reported as yours. As depicted in the movie, the main character may have had very good credit but his name was saddling him with his father's bad credit.
- Big changes could eliminate all credit history. A woman who goes by the name Mary Anne Smith at 123 Main Street may get married and move into a home she co-owns with her husband, and now she's Mary Jones at 456 King Street. Will the credit reporting bureau recognize that both names belong to the same person? You want to make sure your name change is updated with your creditors and always confirm your name is correct on your credit reports.
- Name variations might not be reporting to your credit. If Mary Anne Smith also had a credit card that was issued under her middle name ("M. Anne Smith"), then the credit reporting agency might not realize that these are one and the same person.
In all three examples (and numerous others), names can create an additional layer of complexity that might affect your credit.
Yes, credit reporting agencies are becoming increasingly better at matching that information (since they often match multiple pieces of information like name, address, and phone number all at the same time) but even that system is not perfect.
Therefore, if you have any loans or credit cards that are issued with variations of your name, or if you have changed your name or occasionally go by your middle name, then you will want to pull your credit, check all of your existing accounts against those reported on your credit report, and alert the credit reporting agencies to any aliases you might be using. You can monitor your credit for free using a tool like the Credit Report Card, which updates your credit scores monthly and can let you track any sudden changes that may signal an error.
Don't let J. Edgar Hoover's problem keep you from getting the credit score you deserve.
More from Credit.com:
- What is a good credit score?
- How do I dispute an error on my credit report?
- What happens to your credit when you get married?
I "had a current job" (according to a credit report from 2005) with a doctor that my ex-wife quit working for in the late 80/early 90 period. It turned up AFTER a bankruptcy, not in the credit reports obtained during the bankruptcy. I was never an employee of the doctor in question... My report was so full of errors, I've given up, I could never afford the fight to clear them up; some dated back to the 1980s.
CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES should be compelled, by law, to authenticate any data that they get before reporting it - and to pay for any misreported data's consequences. This has been going on since the 50/60s, and they keep evading attempts to make them accountable for their data.
Try being "Mark Smith" nowadays - even with my middle initial my credit is so messed up, that I almost can't even use it & 90% of it isn't even me! But hey some minimum wage data entry person put it there, so it must be correct!
Do any of them give an F! Nope - I'm just a loser with bad credit that deserves what he gets!
I go by my middle name, but when completing a form I still put my actual first name in the box/line that says “First Name” and my middle name in the one that says “Middle Name” so all of my credit is still under my first name. The problem is when people who go by their middle name start putting it as the first
If you seriously believe you can single handedly correct an error on your credit report please offer an effective way to produce results. I have six names on my report as aliases. Most were data entry mistakes made by a state DRV employee. A second and third must have come from have come from an insurance company, again an error. None the less some idiot used my SS# to apply for a Sears CC. Thanks but I live two states away probably another data entry issue, Right? I had experian block my credit score but they refuse to take my word or even discuss the issue unless I provide reams of data. Well BS no more abused data for you, Experian!
As an employee of a credit rating agency, I'd like to remind readers of the following:
1. Your address matters. If you live in a poorer zip code, your score will be reduced slightly due to perceived weakness in your financial situation.
2. Your education matters. Higher education will garner a slightly higher score due to an assumed ability to 'bounce back' from temporary financial setbacks.
3. Your name matters. Not only for the reasons mentioned in the article, but also because heavily 'ethnic' names in conjunction with points 1 & 2 are suggestive of an individual posing a greater credit risk.
Credit reporting agencies are one of the most F'd up bureaucratic nightmares one could ever imagine.
We also have no control over what anyone puts into our credit files and the agencies have no interest or motivation in seeing if it is even valid - in essence - you can be charged, tried, found guilty and executed all before you even are aware of it.
Then you are left with the lifetime burden of either spending enormous amounts of time energy and resources to try to have the mistakes corrected or - living with the damage that others, with the cooperation of the credit agencies, have done to your life.
Collection agencies are largely to blame for much of this in that they are motivated strictly by greed and also have no interest or motivation to play by any set of fair or ethical standards.
If the penalties for misconduct or erroneous records was substantial then they would do a better job at being ethical, but like banks and other financial institutions, they are allowed to run roughshod over consumers with little to no system of checks and balances.....thanks to Congress (again).
Because no one has the time or energy to do the immortal combat it takes to resolve these matters (as they sometimes take years and years and years) many are left with the misfortune of being severely damaged for the rest of their lives because of a broken system.
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