How to report a name change to a credit bureau

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In a Nutshell

Reporting a name change to the credit bureaus may seem like a logical step, since your credit history plays an important role in your ability to get a loan or credit card. But you shouldn’t need to contact the credit-reporting agencies to have your name updated. Instead, you can contact the Social Security Administration, your state’s DMV and your creditors.

Jennifer Brozic is a personal finance writer and has written for Citi. Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors' opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when it’s posted.
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To change your name with the credit bureaus, you can contact the Social Security Administration, your state’s DMV and your creditors to update your personal information.

The next time your creditors report your account activity to the credit bureaus, it should include your new name, which should be reflected on your credit reports.

Let’s take a look at what life events may trigger a name change and how you can make sure yours gets updated with the credit-reporting agencies.


Reasons your name may change

Some people change their name because they experience a major life event, like marriage, divorce or naturalization. But you don’t need to have a big shift in your life to change your name. You can change it for just about any reason or no reason at all.

If you decide to change your name, it’s a good idea to get multiple certified copies of the legal document that shows your previous name and your current name. That may be a marriage license, divorce decree, court order or other document, depending on why you’re changing your name.

Businesses and government agencies, like the DMV, typically require you to provide these legal documents (along with some other things) to update your name in their records. Having a few copies on hand can make the process easier and save you time.

How to report a name change to a credit bureau

The information that appears on your credit reports — including your personal identifying information — can be provided by your creditors. So, you shouldn’t need to contact the credit bureaus directly to change your name on your credit file.

One way to ensure that your new name is reflected on your credit reports is to update each of your creditors. But first you need to change it with the Social Security Administration. After that, you should change your name on your government-issued ID or passport at the Department of Motor Vehicles or other appropriate agency in your state, because you may need to provide a government-issued ID to confirm your name change with creditors. Here’s how.

What you need to know about the three main credit bureaus

Update your Social Security card

You can update your name on your Social Security card in person or by mail, but not online. To get a new card, follow the instructions, including submitting a completed application, evidence of your legal name change and a valid ID. You may also need to provide additional citizenship and identification documents, depending on your personal situation.

Your updated card should be mailed to you after your information has been verified. Most people receive their new Social Security card about 10 to 14 business days after their application is processed.

Update your government-issued ID

Your creditors may require you to provide a valid photo ID that reflects your new name before they will update your name in their records, so it’s a good idea to update your state driver’s license or other government-issued ID, like your passport, before contacting your creditors.

Each state has its own rules for changing a person’s name on their driver’s license or ID, but you may be required to complete the process in person. Depending on your state’s rules, you might have to provide a completed application, evidence of your legal name change, and your current driver’s license with your old name. Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles or transportation agency in your state for the specific requirements where you live.

Some states confirm your new name with the Social Security Administration, so be sure to update your name there first.

If you’re planning on using your passport as proof of your name change, there are a few different ways to update it, depending on how long ago your current passport was issued and whether you can document the name change. It may be easier to change your name on your passport after changing your name on your driver’s license, depending on your situation. Visit the State Department’s instructions for amending passports for more information.

Update your name with your creditors

Once you’ve changed your name on your Social Security card and government-issued ID, you can update it with your creditors. Each financial institution has its own process for how they handle name changes, so check before you get started. Typically, you’ll need to fill out some paperwork, provide a photo ID and submit evidence of your legal name change.

After a creditor changes your name, it can be updated in your credit reports the next time the company submits your account information to the credit bureaus. You may also notice that your old name also continues to appear on your credit reports. That information can help verify your identity when you apply for credit in the future and alert you to potential fraud in your name.


What’s next?

Although personal information like your name doesn’t factor into calculating your credit scores, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s accurate on your reports. If not, it could be a sign that your credit file has been mixed up with someone else’s.

When your name has been updated with your creditors, consider requesting your free credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. You’re entitled to receive one from each of the three major credit bureaus every year.

Review your reports regularly to make sure all the information is correct. If you discover potential inaccuracies, dispute them right way so that if they are errors, you can work to get them resolved.