Whether you’re planning to change your name because you got married or don’t like the one you have, you’re making a big shift in your life.
But there are a few things you need to know once you’ve changed your name to make sure your credit doesn’t take a hit.
Check your name change everywhere
Your name might be different, but your history is still yours. There are a few places to start on your name-changing journey.
You’ve got the same Social Security number, which means you’ve got the same identity. But you’ll need a new Social Security card with your changed name as well as a new license.
Both steps might require a marriage license, proof of divorce, or other official documentation stating you changed your name.
Once you’ve handled that, you also can check:
Banks, lenders, and credit cards: Wherever you have credit or loans, make sure the lender is aware of your changed name.
Your job: Let your employer know of the change to update any official documents as well as your work email.
Insurance companies: From auto to health, you’ll need to prove your name if anything happens to you.
On your credit report, your previous name will show up like an old address or job, but nothing else should change. For extra security, you can contact the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — to ensure the name change appears.
New name, same credit
The good news is you get to keep your credit score when you change your name. The bad news is if your credit isn’t great, it’s still your bad credit.
If you apply for new credit, you’ll often be asked if you’ve changed your name in the past five years.
If you’re checking to make sure your changed name doesn’t impact your credit report, request free copies from the three major bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. This way, you can see what the credit bureaus see when they review your credit report.
You can fix what your name can’t
If you’re not happy that changing your name won’t get you a better credit score, there are small ways to boost your credit.
Here are a few things you can do:
Pay off debt. Do your best to make minimum payments on time every month.
Get a credit card. Pay off your balance in full every month to show you’re a responsible spender.
Keep spending low. Don’t make big purchases and buy only what you need so you can make full-balance payments when they’re due.
Become an authorized user. This way, someone else’s credit can boost yours.
The only thing that changes is your name
Changing your name can be a tedious process, regardless of the reason. But if you don’t take care of it properly, your credit could be impacted. Make sure your name is correct on all your important financial documents and accounts so your credit report will be correct.
If you’ve changed your name and are hoping for a clean slate on your credit report, your name won’t get you one. But you can take steps to boost your score.
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