In the movie “J. Edgar,” there is a scene when the main character is denied credit at men’s clothing store because “John Hoover” owes the clothing store money. Dicaprio’s character explains that he was named after his father, John, but he also sometimes goes by the name Edgar. When pushed to choose just one name, he signs his name J. Edgar Hoover.
Many of us were born with a standard name sequence: Our first name is the name we go by, then our middle name is rarely used (unless mom is yelling at us!), and then our last name. For example, John Edgar Hoover might typically go by “John.” But that’s not the case for everyone, as was the case with the founder of the FBI. Someone could be called by their middle name (“Edgar,”)
Unfortunately, this has the potential to keep you from having the best credit possible or even to hurt your credit, just as it did for Hoover.
Although credit reporting agencies try to allow for it by reporting a primary name and aliases, it’s not a perfect science to collect every variation of a person’s name. Here’s how it could affect you:
- Bad credit from others could be reported as yours. As depicted in the movie, the main character may have had very good credit but his name was saddling him with his father’s bad credit.
- Big changes could eliminate all credit history. A woman who goes by the name Alaba Mariam Saliu at 123 Main Street may get married and move into a home she co-owns with her husband, and now she’s Alaba Jones at 456 King Street. Will the credit reporting bureau recognize that both names belong to the same person? You want to make sure your name change is updated with your creditors and always confirm your name is correct on your credit reports.
- Name variations might not be reporting to your credit. If Alaba Mariam Saliu also had a credit card that was issued under her middle name (“M. Alaba Saliu”), then the credit reporting agency might not realize that these are one and the same person.
In all three examples (and numerous others), names can create an additional layer of complexity that might affect your credit.
Therefore, don’t let J. Edgar Hoover’s problem keep you from getting the credit score you deserve.