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(Not) Fun with Banks


Since I have gotten my legal name change all in order, I have been in the process of updating a lot of ID and services from my deadname. Some are easy, some less so, then there are the banks...

There are varying degrees of difficulty when it comes to updates in the financial world, but my encounters on the credit card side are where I am most concerned. In particular, what I am encountering is that the burden to update your information is actually higher than the burden of applying. That is a huge problem.

Why? Well, the thing about credit scores is that there are a bunch of variables that are used to calculate your score, which is a measure of your reliability and risk, and a couple of them are age of credit products and hard hits to check your score. If you have credit products, like a credit card, that have been around for a long time then losing these from your credit report is a problem because it shortens your credit history. Hard hits show you have applied for additional credit and a number of them in the short term imply increased risk for lenders. 

Does it matter? Well, it depends. If you do need to consider applying for credit, then it matters a lot. The higher the score, the more willing lenders are to lend money. So, car loans, mortgages, and the like are definitely a consideration. Some of these impacts, like the hard hits, are fairly temporary, but losing aged credit products are not.

So, this is where some banks are a problem. In once instance, I was told that I need to send original identity documents or certified copies. In other words, tuck your driver's license or birth certificate into an envelope and mail it off. If you are reluctant (and you should be saying an emphatic no to doing this), then you can pay a fee to have a notary make a certified copy. Best part? The default is not to return the documents, you have to tell them you want them returned! Where do I even start with this mess?

The reality is that this should all be electronic, through secure systems. This is how Service Canada handles social insurance changes and if they can do it, so can the banks.

However, my very strong advice is do not close and reopen credit accounts. That may seem an easy solution, but it's a decision that will hurt you. Small secret, when it comes to processing credit card transactions, the first name isn't included in the information checked. I use my cards, still in my deadname, but I always use Joanne in my cardholder name online, and I have never had a reject. A pain to keep the old cards with my deadname around, but eventually it will sort.

As a note, I filed a complaint with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) on this front. It is good to be aware of which regulators have authority with financial institutions. Banks respond very quickly to the concerns of the regulators. Similar regulators exist in the US and UK, so do use them. 

Another pro tip, this one for banks, when a customer calls to tell you they have changed their name, do have the courtesy to ask them what they would like to be called. Being deadnamed and misgendered on calls did not help with my mood during this already annoyingly painful process.

And so it is, my adventures in name change continue...


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