Namesake Credit Mix-ups and How to Repair the Damage

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Although not as common as it once was, naming baby boys after their fathers is still a custom that is practiced in this country. Proud fathers naturally want to continue a family tradition that may have existed for centuries. In fact, some women also choose to name their daughters after themselves, however this is a much less common occurrence.

Aside from the cultural aspects that are intertwined with baby naming practices, giving your child the same name as one of his/her parents may be setting them up for a lifetime of headaches.

In addition to everyday confusion related to which person is being referred to (Are you talking about Big John or Little John, Junior?), sharing an identical (or nearly so) name can lead to financial mix-ups that are much more inconvenient.

Especially as the child grows into an adult and begins to acquire his own assets and credit rating, it’s unfortunately common for fathers and sons with the same name to have some co-mingling of their credit information.

How does this happen?

As much as we’d love to think that every financial institution and lender is doing their due diligence when processing loan applications and other important identifying documents, mistakes are made every day. Incomplete information leads employees to fill in the blanks of their own accord, which is where the errors begin.

Employees who are unfamiliar with the people involved are often on the paper-pushing end of financial transactions like loans. Given the task of ensuring that all documents are complete, these employees may have to search for a person’s social security number, for example. In a situation where a father and son share the same name (and suffixes have been dropped), matching up the wrong social security number is an easy mistake.

Will I have to change my name to fix my credit?

Although it may help in your future financial endeavors, changing your name won’t do anything for the errors that already exist in your credit report. You’ll need to be in close contact with all of the credit bureaus to dispute every instance of the wrong identity being used. As long as you follow through with your dispute(s), you should be able to have all of the incorrect information removed, which will improve your score if it was negatively affected.

In order to prevent this from becoming a never-ending problem that keeps coming back to bite you, take the following steps:

  • Always provide your social security number and give complete information when filling out any type of financial documentation, especially loan applications.
  • Sit down with your father (or other person with whom you share a name) in order to educate him about the situation at hand. Encourage him to fill out applications in full as well.
  • Be consistent with the name that you use on applications. If your name contains a suffix, like Jr., Sr., or III, use it without fail when you apply for anything. If you have always used a nickname, continue using the same name for all financial transactions into the future. Consistency is the key.
  • Check your credit report annually for any new errors that may pop up, and deal with them promptly to avoid serious consequences to your credit score.

 

Image credit: Francisco Osorio

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