I got married last year and am currently in the process of changing my surname across all of my accounts.
This is a rather lengthy process, with a lot of forms and admin, and at the moment half of my accounts are in one name and half are in the new surname.
I didn’t think much of this but when I recently switched energy providers, I was initially rejected when using my new married name.
After getting married and changing my surname, I was then rejected for an energy account
I explained the situation and then went back to using my previous name and the switch went through and the new account was set up.
At the time I wasn’t registered on the electoral roll, and hadn’t updated any of my accounts with the new name so I’m assuming this is why it happened, especially as now I’ve done most of those things I’ve been able to use it and haven’t had any problems.
However, I’m interested to know if changing my name could have had this affect or if it was just a random error. I asked Experian to outline the main issues surrounding changing over a name and how this relates to a credit score.
James Jones, spokesperson for Experian, replies: ‘Lenders use credit scoring to identify which customers they are prepared to lend to.
‘For each applicant, the lender calculates a score by assessing the customer’s current and past financial behaviour – including their credit history – and turning this into a single number that predicts how they’ll manage credit in the future.
‘While each lender uses a different scoring formula, the basics are the same and the higher your score the lower the risk of you missing payments.
‘Customers who are registered on the electoral roll, have a strong track record of borrowing money and paying it back on time, and who aren’t heavily indebted are likely to get a good or excellent score.
‘Typically, scores not only help determine which customers lenders accept and refuse but also what successful customers are offered. Customers with the highest scores will often be offered the cheapest borrowing rates.
‘Changing your name can be a potential credit-checking banana skin. If you apply for credit using your new name without first ensuring your credit report has been updated, there is a risk that some of your credit history will not be retrieved and assessed.
‘This could result in a less-than-impressive credit score and the potential for either credit refusal or, if you are accepted, a lower credit limit and/or a higher interest rate.
‘To guard against this, it’s sensible to contact your local council’s electoral roll department and all your current credit account providers at the earliest opportunity, asking them to update your name on their records.
Changing your name can be a potential credit-checking banana skin, says James Jones
‘To help make sure you don’t forget any, order a copy of your credit report at the beginning of the process under your original name and use it as a checklist. The name change should be reflected the next time each organisation updates your credit report, which is typically once a month.
‘It can take longer to update your name on the electoral roll if your council has started the ‘annual canvas’, which is an update to its entire electoral register during the autumn months.
‘Order another copy of your credit report six weeks later under your new name and check to make sure the electoral roll and your open accounts have all been updated, where appropriate.
‘You should also find that one or more ‘alias’ entries have been added to your report, which record the link between your new and old names. This is important as it helps ensure that any historical records, such as closed accounts, should be visible and used to calculate your future credit scores.
‘If at this stage you find any historical records are missing from your new report please inform the credit reference agency (Experian, Callcredit or Equifax).’
Clearly I was slightly too eager in using the new name when I applied for the energy switch and hadn’t completed all the relevant admin first, such as changing my name on the electoral roll or on my other accounts.
Therefore if you’re in a similar situation it’s worth listing all the accounts you currently have in your name – which as James says you can get from downloading your latest credit report – and working through them to make sure they’re all correct.
And remember to set aside some time (and patience) to do this as it can be quite a lengthy process as several places, such as your bank, will need you to come into a branch with the original marriage certificate while for your driving licence and passport you’ll need to send off the licence in order for the change to be made.
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