Today, on Transgender Day of Visibility, Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced the Name Accuracy in Credit Reporting Act. The bill will prohibit credit bureaus from including consumers’ previous names on their reports after a request by the consumer notifying them about a legal name change.
The NAME Coalition celebrates this critical move to ensure that consumers can quickly and easily update their name on consumer reports after a name change and to be free of discrimination based on their deadname (i.e., their previous name) and gender identity.
The CFPB’s complaint database contains dozens of stories describing harms resulting from fragmented credit files and difficulties updating their names on credit reports after a name change—some as recent as February 2023. These problems disproportionately afflict transgender and nonbinary consumers. Although not all transgender or nonbinary people change their names, many do: 30% of trans people report they have legally changed their names. In a recent survey, one in eight (12%) LGBTQI+ people who experienced discrimination in financial services said they were denied services due to multiple credit files in different names.
Last year, 145 LGBTQI+, consumer, and community organizations sent a letter to Equifax, Experian, and Transunion about these ongoing problems. The letter called on the credit bureaus to: (1) fix existing fragmented credit files, (2) create reasonable procedures to prevent future file fragmentation, and (3) ensure consumers could request to have their deadnames omitted from reports provided to creditors, landlords, and employers. Many of those organizations continued to rally and organize for name change equity across all financial and government records by forming the NAME Coalition in June 2022.
Although the bureaus responded minimally to advocates’ calls for action by enabling consumers to notify them about name changes, that step has not been sufficient to prevent fragmented files, reconcile them, or prevent the disclosure of deadnames. The credit bureaus’ inaction is why the Name Accuracy in Credit Reporting Act is a critical measure to ensure that consumer reports include accurate information and not obsolete deadnames that put already vulnerable trans and nonbinary consumers at additional risk.
“Our broken credit reporting system has perpetuated inequities and pushed our most vulnerable consumers—including the trans and nonbinary community—further to the margins, risking their livelihoods and economic pursuits,” said Rep. Pressley. “The Name Accuracy in Credit Reporting Act is a legislative fix that will help prevent the financial discrimination of trans and nonbinary people and improve accuracy in consumer reporting. Passing this bill would be a meaningful step as we work towards long-overdue economic justice for the trans community. I’m proud to introduce this legislation on Transgender Day of Visibility and I’m grateful to NAME Coalition and our partners in this work.”
“We applaud Representative Pressley for re-introducing this much-needed legislation to improve credit reporting accuracy after a name change and remove discriminatory obstacles to jobs, housing, insurance, and credit for trans and nonbinary people. More access to these essentials will empower trans and nonbinary households and enable them to build financial security and a better future for themselves and their communities,” said Spencer Watson, Executive Director of the Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research (CLEAR).
“The Name Accuracy in Credit Reporting Act will go far to protect transgender and nonbinary people who have gone through all the required steps when they legally changed their name, only to find themselves outed when their former names are reflected in their credit reports,” said Valerie Ploumpis, National Policy Director of Equality California.
The NAME Coalition, which stands for “Name Acknowledgement Means Everything,” is a coalition of over 60 LGBTQ+ and consumer advocacy organizations committed to ensuring that trans and nonbinary people who change their legal names can quickly and easily update their name on all their financial and government records–including credit reports, financial accounts, tax records, and social security records.