It’s sometimes entertaining how much people and companies struggle to spell names correctly, and it can result in some hilarious junk mail. (I’m endlessly amused that my father-in-law gets mail addressed to Bawrence or Lawrench. His name is Larry.) But name misspellings aren’t always something to laugh off.
If you pull your credit reports and see something wrong with your name, it could cause you problems or be a sign that someone stole your identity. Even if a name error on your credit report is just that — a mistake — it’s something you should try to fix.
A strange variation in your name could seem suspicious to someone who is manually reviewing your credit reports, like a mortgage lender.
“Is this somebody who regularly uses alternate names to dishonest ends?” Randy Padawer, consumer education specialist with Lexington Law, which represents consumers who want to repair their credit, said. “In a world when creditors aren’t always repaid the money they lend, this might be a cause for concern, even if that concern isn’t too terribly strong.”
First, you want to get your free annual credit reports (like you are already doing on a regular basis, we hope) and review them for accuracy (your names, accounts and everything else). Some variations are perfectly normal, like if you go by Larry even if your full name is Lawrence, but something like an incorrect middle initial or a totally different first name (one you’ve never used) is something to address.
The name variations could be a result of identity theft, a mixed credit file with someone of a similar name or a mere typo. In the case of identity theft, you’ll want to file a police report and monitor your credit for abuse or even freeze your credit to prevent new account fraud. You can get a free credit report summary to help you watch for signs of fraud every 30 days on Credit.com.
To correct information on an account that actually belongs to you, Padawer recommends starting with your credit reports. The name on your account won’t be listed next to the trade line, so you may not be able to tell if one of your creditors is reporting it incorrectly, but you can dispute the incorrect name information. After that’s corrected, consider digging deeper by reviewing your account statements or contacting your creditor to make sure your records are accurate. If disputing the name doesn’t work, you’ll also have to put in a little extra effort to get that fixed.
“You’re going to need to go straight to the data furnisher,” Padawer said. “Ask for a signed copy of the credit application. Ask for full debt validation.” You’re entitled to have your credit report accurately represent your identity, so press the creditor for information on how to correct the name until they do it.
More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:
- The Credit.com Credit Reports Learning Center
- How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?
- How Credit Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life
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