How Your Middle Name Could Screw Up Your Credit Score

AP Photo/FileFormer FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

By Jeannne Kelly

In the movie “J. Edgar,” there is a scene when the main character is denied credit at a men’s clothing store because “John Hoover” owes the store money. Dicaprio’s character explains that he was named after his father, John, but he also sometimes goes by the name Edgar. When pushed to choose just one name, he signs his name J. Edgar Hoover.

Many of us were born with a standard name sequence: Our first name is the name we go by, then our middle name is rarely used (unless mom is yelling at us!), and then our last name. For example, John Edgar Hoover might typically go by “John.” But that’s not the case for everyone, as was the case with the founder of the FBI. Someone could be called by their middle name (“Edgar,” in our example).

Unfortunately, this has the potential to keep you from having the best credit possible or even to hurt your credit, just as it did for Hoover.

Although credit reporting agencies try to allow for it by reporting a primary name and aliases, it’s not a perfect science to collect every variation of a person’s name. Here’s how it could affect you:

In all three examples (and numerous others), names can create an additional layer of complexity that might affect your credit.

Yes, credit reporting agencies are becoming increasingly better at matching that information (since they often match multiple pieces of information like name, address, and phone number all at the same time) but even that system is not perfect.

Therefore, if you have any loans or credit cards that are issued with variations of your name, or if you have changed your name or occasionally go by your middle name, then you will want to pull your credit, check all of your existing accounts against those reported on your credit report, and alert the credit reporting agencies to any aliases you might be using.

Don’t let J. Edgar Hoover’s problem keep you from getting the credit score you deserve.

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