Changing Your Name, Not Your Credit Score: Helping Transgender and Non-binary People with Name Changes and Credit Reports

The Equifax Pride Network (EPN), started in 2019, is an employee resource group supporting Equifax LGBTQ+ employees. Occasionally, the group features outside speakers about issues relevant to the LGBTQ+ community. That’s where our journey began in learning about some credit reporting challenges that people in the trans and non-binary community face. 

During Pride Month in 2020, the EPN hosted an external speaker who spoke to our group about his experiences being an openly transgender man in a corporate environment. Prior to his talk, he mentioned his credit score went down significantly when he changed his full name as part of his transition. When EPN board members Chase Nicholson (he/him) and Gabriel Charvat (he/him) heard that, they engaged some internal experts to learn more about why this would have occurred. 

After some research, they learned what happened when he changed his names. The credit file with his chosen name did not contain his excellent credit history associated with his deadname, or pre-transition name. This explained why his score appeared to drop after changing his name. 

Creating a Solution
Our goal at Equifax is to be the most consumer friendly Credit Reporting Agency (CRA). That means making a positive experience for everyone as they seek to live their financial best. To live up to that goal, we had to figure out how a person can remedy this sort of situation directly with Equifax in a secure, safe and comfortable way. 

Common advice around name changes 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 CRAs 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, the process becomes more complex.

We recommend the best action a transgender or non-binary person can take is to directly inform Equifax and the other CRAs (Experian and TransUnion) after completing a legal name change. Doing this provides the critical link needed between their chosen name and their deadname, which will help to maintain the integrity of their credit file during transition and potentially avoid any misunderstanding with creditors or lenders.  

This can be done using the myEquifax website or by calling the Equifax Consumer Care Center. Full instructions for these options can be found in the Equifax Knowledge Center. Either way, documentation of the new legal name will be required. These include a court order, updated Social Security card, and updated Driver’s License (or state ID).

Like most employee resource groups, the Equifax Pride Network started with a very internal mission: to create an environment where all LGBTQ+ people are valued, heard, accepted, and celebrated. Now, we've realized that we are also in a unique position within Equifax to work on some of the credit issues facing people in the LGBTQ+ community and to advocate for them. We look forward to continuing our work to help all consumers live their financial best.