Credit bureaus perpetuate anti-trans discrimination. Congress should stop them

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Besides government-issued identification, such as passports, driver’s licenses, and social security cards, one of the most important documents in most people’s lives is their credit report. These determine everything from a person’s ability to buy a house or a car to, in many cases, their ability to find a job. In fact, there are few aspects of a person’s life that are not affected, in one way or another, by the information that credit reporting agencies collect and report about them. .

It is therefore particularly detrimental that these same credit reporting agencies are unable – or unwilling – to update credit reports to reflect the correct name of a transgender or non-binary person, even when that person requests a such change. And unlike the list of government documents mentioned above, there is no process or requirement for credit reporting agencies to do this. The result is a system of pervasive potential harm that gives news agencies a free pass for such particularly discriminatory and exceptionally harmful inaction.

This is why my organization, Public Justice, is proud to join the Name recognition means everything (NAME) Coalition to support HR 8478, The Credit Reporting Accuracy After a Legal Name Change Act, which will ban dead names in consumer reports and also improve the accuracy of credit reports so trans and non-binary people can see their credit history track them after their name change. HR 8478 is led by Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Katie Porter – two ardent champions of transgender equality – to ensure that transgender and non-binary people do not face barriers to obtaining housing or employment due to sexual intercourse. erroneous credit ratings.

Among other things, the bill would prohibit credit bureaus from disclosing a consumer’s dead name on a credit report after the consumer notifies them that they have legally changed their name. If passed, the bill will address issues faced by trans and non-binary people after a legal name change, including discrimination in credit, housing and employment; ensure clear and effective processes for trans and non-binary consumers to update consumer reports with their new legal name; ensure consumers’ prior name information is included in their current reports; and ensure improvement access to housing, jobs, and credit for trans and non-binary people by preventing unfair denials resulting from loss of credit history or score after a name change.

Credit bureaus already do all of these things, for example, for consumers whose last name changes after marriage. There’s no reason – and no excuse – they can’t do the same for trans and non-binary people following their own name change as part of a gender transition.

As the Coalition pointed out in a recent letter to Congress, “A review of the CFPB’s consumer complaint database by the NAME Coalition uncovered more than 60 accounts of individuals who changed their names describing issues with the “big three” credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. In addition to these complaints, a separate collection of stories organized by the NAME Coalition on this issue sparked 45 stories from transgender and non-binary people describing issues with their credit reports in July 2022.” The result was that many transgender and non-binary people had “fragmented credit reports, inaccuracies in their credit report, drops in their credit score, and the inability to access their credit records after a legal name change”.

For a community already facing high rates of unemployment, poverty, housing discrimination, and lack of access to credit and other financial and economic opportunities, this additional discriminatory barrier can be particularly traumatic and damaging.

And the impact of this simple common-sense solution would be extraordinary: over 420,000 transgender people in the United States alone have changed their legal names, as have over 132,000 non-binary people, and all of them could be affected by this proposed law.

For all of these reasons, we believe it is imperative that Congress pass and President Biden sign HR 8478. Credit reporting agencies must not be allowed to have such a negative impact on trans lives and non-binary when resolving this systemic discrimination is so simple and easy. TO DO.

To send a letter to your elected officials encouraging them to vote “yes” on HR 8478, click here

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