If I Change My Name Can I Still Get Credit?

Posted by Tom Magor in Personal Finance on 22 February 2019 - Tom is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile.

Legally changing your name is an increasingly popular thing to do in the UK: while getting married or divorced still makes up a large proportion of this, there is a growing trend towards people changing their name following civil partnerships, a change in gender, living in blended families, or simply because they’re seeking a change – the list is long.

The most recently published figures show that more than 85,000 people legally changed their name via deed poll in 2015 and it’s easy to see why: the process is quick (it takes a few days), easy (it can be done online) and cheap (it costs less than £40). Once you’ve completed the process, you just need to inform the relevant parties about your name change before you can start using it for everything.

But if you’ve changed your name, what happens to your Credit History and how does it affect your ability to apply for new credit? The good news is that if done correctly you should have no issue taking out credit after your name change as long as you update all existing credit agreements and make sure you’re registered to vote under your new moniker.

Why it’s important to update lenders

Credit scoring isn’t designed to try and reject people for credit. In simple terms, the information contained in your Credit Report allows a prospective lender to assess your Creditworthiness, and the more data available, the easier that job is.

That’s why application forms typically ask for all addresses that you’ve lived at during the past three years as well as whether you have been known by any other name. Credit checks involve sophisticated software that is likely to find the information even if it isn’t volunteered, but it’s much better to be upfront.

By not updating your personal information, it could lead to delays in processing an application or possibly being rejected altogether.

Even if you’re not considering applying for credit in the short-term, you have a responsibility to inform any lenders you have a relationship with of your name change.

Once you’ve notified lenders of your name change, each one will independently pass that information on to any Credit Reference Agency with which it shares data. Depending on timings, this can then take up to two months before it appears on your Credit Report.

Once your new name starts to be reported, this should automatically create an Alias on your Credit Report, which essentially serves as a link between your old and new names – making it easier for lenders to find and assess information.

As a result, information in both name formats should be automatically returned and your ability to take out credit shouldn’t be affected by you changing your name. As already mentioned, there might be a short period immediately after you have made the change where the information hasn’t been updated, which is why it makes sense to check for yourself while the process is underway.

Updating your Electoral Roll listing with your new name

It is equally important to make sure you update your Electoral Roll listing with your local council to reflect your new name. The Electoral Roll is a surprisingly important component of a Credit Report, particularly if you don’t have many credit accounts reported. Unless you ensure that your listing is updated, there’s a chance that any new lenders you approach could struggle to find your details under your new name.

If you find that you aren’t registered on the Electoral Roll in any name, you should aim to change that as soon as you can. We’ve put together a handy guide to checking your Electoral status using your Credit Report, so you can make sure that all four Credit Reference Agencies are reporting it correctly to lenders.

As with most aspects of your Credit Report, the crucial thing is knowing where you stand. By checking that your change of name has been carried out correctly by every organisation involved, you can see for yourself what lenders see and reduce the chances of it affecting your ability to borrow money in the future.

To see the UK’s most detailed Credit Report, you can try checkmyfile FREE for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month afterwards, which you can cancel online, by phone or by email. You’ll be able to check data from 4 Credit Reference Agencies together, including how your name and any Alias is being reported by Callcredit, Equifax and Experian as well as your Electoral Roll status and any Court information from all 4 agencies.

Does changing your name reset your credit history and debts?

There are many valid and legal reasons that someone might want to change their name, but doing so in order to try and evade existing debts or ‘reset’ a history of adverse credit isn’t one of them.

Firstly, you will remain responsible and liable for any existing debts and creditors are likely to pursue you through all means possible in order to recover them. Simply changing your name is not a viable solution and as a tactic it’s likely to make things even worse.

If you change your name and don’t disclose whether you have been known by any other names if asked during a credit application, this could be viewed as fraud, which is likely to cause serious problems obtaining credit in the future.

Credit Reporting is built around the concept of data sharing, which includes sharing information with a number of anti-fraud databases (such as Cifas and Hunter). It might take a little while, but an association between your old and new alias is likely to be created sooner or later, even if you don’t volunteer the information.

In conclusion

Whatever the motivation for doing so, changing your name shouldn’t affect your Credit Score or ability to take out credit - as long you ensure you tell all relevant organisations about the change.

There are long-standing systems in place try and help potential lenders ‘fill any gaps’ when you apply for credit and these same checks also ensure that people can’t dodge existing debts or hide from their past Credit History simply by changing their identity.

If you do think you might have adverse information recorded against you, you’re much better off finding out exactly what is being reported and when it’s due to be automatically removed from your Credit Report.

To see what lenders see, you can try checkmyfile FREE for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month afterwards which you can cancel online, by phone or by email.

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