WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators John Fetterman (D-PA) and Tina Smith (D-MN) today introduced the Name Accuracy in Credit Reporting Act, legislation to help consumers who have legally changed their names, such as survivors of domestic violence or transgender or nonbinary consumers, obtain accurate credit reports and scores. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced companion legislation in the House in May.
The Name Accuracy in Credit Reporting Act would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to require the nationwide credit reporting agencies to, at the request of the consumer, associate all of their consumer reports with their current legal name only. Currently, people who have changed their names can face significant challenges obtaining accurate credit reports and scores. Often, when someone who has changed their name applies for credit using their new legal name, credit bureaus create an entirely new credit file, leading to the individual having a fragmented report. These fragmented reports can have significant real-world ramifications, including steep drops in credit scores that can create barriers to accessing loans, finding rental housing, and even getting a job.
“Amid the ongoing attacks on the LGBTQ community, I am proud to introduce this bill with Senator Smith that is a commonsense measure to make it easier for people who change their names to obtain accurate credit reports and information. Whether it’s transgender and nonbinary people or survivors of domestic violence, every American should be able to get an accurate credit report and score,” said Sen. Fetterman.
“Nobody should face unnecessary burdens to receive a mortgage or a car loan, but transgender and nonbinary Americans have to deal with credit agencies that can’t even get their name right,” said Sen. Smith. “This bill fixes a simple issue that Minnesotans have been asking me to help fix, and it will help trans and nonbinary Americans clear a hurdle to accessing loans.”
Even if a consumer who has changed their name does manage to update their existing file with their new name and avoid a fragmented report, their credit report can continue to include their “deadname,” or their former name. This can lead to discrimination or harassment in credit, housing, and employment for transgender and nonbinary consumers. Sen. Fetterman asked about this specific issue at a Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing where the CEOs of the big three credit reporting agencies were witnesses a few months ago.
Sens. Fetterman and Smith are joined on the legislation by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Brian Schatz (D-HI).
“Americans are counting on credit reports and scores to help them rent a home, get a job, and build their financial future. Transgender and non-binary people that legally change their name should be able to obtain accurate credit reports without fear of being deadnamed, outed, or harassed. Credit reports should reflect a person’s legal name without any fragmentation under a previous name, which can negatively impact a credit score,” said Sen. Markey. “I am proud to join Senators Fetterman and Smith and Representative Pressley in defending the fundamental right for transgender and nonbinary people to live their lives free from harassment—be it in the workplace or the housing market.”
“No one should face unnecessary barriers because they changed their name,” said Sen. Merkley. “This important legislation reaffirms that consumers who have changed their names are still able to get accurate credit data that’s often critical to getting mortgages and rental housing, auto loans, or even a job.”
“Legally changing your name shouldn’t lead to a bad or inaccurate credit report, but for too many – particularly transgender and nonbinary people – it has made it harder to get a loan or find a job,” said Sen. Schatz. “Our bill is a commonsense fix that will make it easier for people to change their name and ensure their full, accurate credit history remains intact.
“Due to our broken and non-inclusive credit reporting system, many people who legally change their names face significant issues obtaining accurate credit reports and scores. This must change,” said Rep. Pressley. “By passing the Name Accuracy in Credit Reporting Act, we can help prevent harmful financial discrimination, especially against trans and nonbinary people, and take a meaningful step towards economic justice for all. I’m grateful to Senator Fetterman for his partnership in the Senate. Momentum is growing and Congress must pass this critical bill without delay.”
The Name Accuracy in Credit Reporting Act is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, California Employment Lawyers Association, Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, CR (formerly Consumer Reports), Equality California, MassEquality, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Consumer Law Center, National LGBTQ Task Force, Transgender Law Center, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and UC Berkeley School of Law, Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice.