Share this article

print logo

Sandy McPherson Carrubba Geary: Changing your name is really complicated

It was our first dinner date and my companion asked if I would ever consider remarrying. We were both widowed. In fact, we had met at a meeting held by an organization for widowed people.

“No,” I answered. “Marriage would be too complicated.” He agreed. Little did I know then how prophetic I was. We married 15 months later, so I now know the truth of my statement. I have spent months trying to change my name with banks, credit card and insurance companies.

Some gave me quick success. Others have proven to be frustrating, even aggravating. I realize now that it is too late: I should have left well enough alone and kept my former name. A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but this woman, trying to change her name on file with various entities, is not.

The Department of Motor Vehicles proved easy and painless. Bringing along my former driver’s license and marriage certificate led to my having my new photo identification the next week. The photo, with its white background, makes this gray-haired woman look as if I am bald. But, I digress.

I thought changing my name at my bank would be easy because the employees knew me and I had my valid driver’s and marriage licenses. Quickly the name change went into effect with my accounts, but not with the credit card from that institution. Apparently the young man I spoke with thought I called simply to have him congratulate me on my marriage.

When I visited the bank and spoke to an employee about my concern that I had never received the credit card with my new name, she learned no one had recorded my request. It took still another visit to the bank and another employee calling the credit card division, stressing that I had waited nearly two months and was ready to take my business elsewhere, for the card to finally arrive.

One credit card company sent my newly issued card quickly and changed my name on the statements. But another big bank refused to issue me a new card unless I sent two months of utility bills in my new name. Since I called that bank in January, and had only been married in December, I did not have the required documentation. So I simplified my life by dropping all the cards that bank carries. Don’t think I will shop less without them!

Another company quickly issued a card in my new name and now wants several documents in order to change the name on the account statements. Somehow that seems backward to me to issue the card with no verification and, two months later, require proof of my identity. Is this a company I want to do business with?

Faxing my driver’s and marriage licenses to insurance companies and others with whom I have business relationships has become my new skill. Some companies acknowledge the name change. Others do not and I must call to verify.

The utility companies informed me the name change would take up to two months. With one, it took effect immediately, while I skeptically await the others to get it right. So I have two identities for now. It gets confusing to someone my age.

I have spent too much time encouraging people to do their jobs and am mystified as to how anything gets done anymore.

I still need to change my name on my house deed and magazine subscriptions. But, those chores are for another day. Meanwhile, don’t call and ask for me. I’m not sure who I am.