Fetterman introduces bill aimed at helping people who legally changed their names obtain accurate credit reports

27 July 2023- 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).