Bankers: equal opps discrimination in respect of women

I’ve always regarded this name change thingy as not just a trans issue, but one that affects women in general too. If you’d like a bit more evidence of that, below is a guest post from partner, andrea, detailing her own experiences in name change.

I think it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that whatever bank employees think they are doing, it has bugger all to do with security – and far more to do with ticking bureaucratic boxes and covering the banks’ collective backs against allegations of money laundering.

Andrea wrote:

When I got married back in the dim and distant mists of 1996 I decided not to take my husbands name but double barrel up and just stick it on after mine…and just to confuse issues I also decided not to bother hyphenating. I wrote a letter to my bank telling them A was my name and B is my name now. That changed my name.

When I got divorced less than a decade later I went into my local branch with a letter telling them my name is B and I’d like it to go back to A…. the same as it had been with that bank for eleven years before I got married.

Their response was to ask to see my divorce certificate.

At which point I told them to sod off, my marital status actually wasn’t any of my banks business and I went off and changed everything else in my life (apart from passport and driving liscence -I’ll get round to them sometime) and just kept y bank account running in my married name.

On a couple of occassions said bank even accepted cheques in my maiden name…. but hey ho I thought… that just means sooner or later they’ll just give in and let me change my name.

Trying to change

This week I gave in. I had a small tax rebate to pay in in my maiden name…. so I dug out my decree absolute to take into the bank. Lo and behold my d.a. has name B on it.

At the bank they told me to change my account I’d need a passport or driving liscence or divorce certificate…. ‘or something like that’.

I had a bit of a rant at the poor lady behind the desk becuase I don’t see how a divorce certificate with my maiden name on it proves anything other than the banks nosiness. Also that I could call myself anything I liked as long as I wasn’t trying to defraud anyone. Also that a deed poll (her other suggestion) wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Also…actually also lots of things…. including that if my partner who has managed to transition without a passport/driving licence/deed poll and come out of it with a working bank account (admittedly at a different bank)could do it…so could I and if they wouldn’t accept different proof of ID (or a letter…or just ask me some security questions – yanno the sort they ask before they hand all your money over to you) I’d be shutting down the account and moving to another bank. (probably the one Jane banks with).

Poor woman… she filled in the paperwork and said the manager would ring me.

I then paid in my cheque (remember – the one made out by the tax office in name A – the one still attached to a letter addressed to me from HM Revenue and Customs to my present address).

A banker calls

So the manager promptly rang me.

He was very pleasant, explained their process needed me to show a deed poll, passport, driving licence or divorce certificate and I told him his process was bullshit. He also told me becuase of their ‘know your customer’ inititive -at which point I told him that was bollocks too becuase if he knew his customers he’s know who I was and just change my bloody name on my sodding account- he would use his managerial discretion and he’d looked into whatother forms of ID would be acceptable.

Child benefit would be (i wrote and told them to change my name when i got divorced- and they had)… a letter from some sort of benefits agency… I asked if child tax credits would do. (He thought it would if it was an official letter).

‘You do know’ I asked ‘that Tax Credits are run by Revenue and Customs?’… and that seemed to impress him as official enough.

And I did point out they had already let me put a cheque in from that government body in my maiden name that very afternoon. But he assured me that was becuase they use their disgression to accept third party cheques.

Becuase of course accepting one letter from HMRC and rejecting a different one would just be silly wouldn’t it. (but I didn’t point this out to him)

He too asked me why I hadn’t just got a deed poll and how had I changed my name with HMRC.

I told him I could get a deed poll on the internet for a fiver and I’d rather trust his security questions… the ones they let me have money with…. than a piece of paper not worth the paper it written on. Oh…and HMCR changed my name when I wrote and asked them to.

Finally I asked him if he would still accept my divorce certificate… of course he said. What? I said – even though it has name B on it and no name A?

Hmmm… he said. I thought they usually have your maiden name on. And we’re not interested in your marital status… just who you are.

At which point the urge to scream ‘just ask me the fucking security questions you normally ask to give me money’ was so strong that I decided to compromise as opposed to scare him. I agreed to find some nice official letters, child benefit, Tax credits etc etc. and take them in.


Today I went back to the bank with a letter a letter from the Tax credits office and a letter from the NHS (who also just needed a letter to inform them of name change)… all to name A at my present address within the last 6 months.

They accepted the Tax Credit letter- but then they realised it wasn’t the same as child benefit (actually when i say ‘realised’ I mean I told them)…. they became quite doubtful when I told them that… becuase it really should be child benefit (who also changed my name by letter when I asked them). Okay I said… I give in and out of my handbag I brought my decree absolute. The one thing thay asked for all those years ago. One of the four main items they asked for yesterday. And I handed it over and let them photocopy it – complete with married name.

I’m now waiting to see if they actually go ahead and change my account.

If they don’t I’m changing bank.


10 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    pollik said,

    I admire your stamina.

    I had a problem with Mastercard about 15 years ago and had a long wrangle with their legal dept before winning…because I knew what I was talking about and they were used to their bullying usually winning the day for them. I took the compensation they offered me and closed my account.

    I recently changed my bank for reasons unconnected with changes of name, I found First Direct absolutely superb and the Coop was very good, By now, I would have told your bank where they can stuff it. One would have hoped that a Bank Manager would have had the nous to be able to talk through the topic…bank qualifications involve a large chunk of general and bank specific law. It was where I first learned that a Deed Poll is not necessary in the England and Wales (I was a manager at NatWest)..

    Banks do now have specific legal obligations about evidence of ID (to reduce money laundering) when opening new accounts. But it doesn’t really apply when they already have your account and security questions…as the manager should have been able to work out.

    They don’t deserve your business.

  2. 2

    Alex said,

    I’m not going to agree with either you or Jane about Deed Polls not being worth the paper they’re written on.

    Like a lot of legal documents, deed polls have to be signed and witnessed, and certified copies have to be signed by a separate person, someone purportedly upstanding and of good character like a police officer, school teacher or doctor. Why a carpenter wouldn’t be upstanding and of good character does, admittedly, baffle me but there you go.

    Now I know Deed Polls don’t have to be filed or recorded anywhere official, but then neither do other signed legal documents. The point is the document has been signed and witnessed, which is, I would have thought, the safeguard. Incidentally, anyone wanting a deed poll template needn’t pay a fiver, just ask me and I’ll email one.

    And why do I think Deed Polls are worth the paper they’re written on? Because my bank told me to write to them enclosing a certified copy and within four days I had my new cards delivered. It’s been the same with the NHS.

    The only organisation that has caused problems is the Pru who have insisted on having sight of the original Deed Poll despite me saying I would send a certified copy. And the reason they won’t be getting that is because if they lose it I can’t make any more certified copies. I think they had a bit of difficulty understanding that.

    However, you and anyone else can stand your ground and refuse to execute one, and you’d be well within your rights, but I’d rather go for the easy life.

    OK, you can start throwing the rotten eggs and tomatoes now. 😉

    • 3

      janefae said,

      Nope. Don’t need the upstanding person at all. Can be pretty much anyone.

      But so what: they have nothing to do with security. Its just a back-covering exercise by banks.

      jane xx

      • 4

        Alex said,

        I’m all for tightening up procedures, and feel that when it comes to a change of name there are opportunities for the less “community minded” to take advantage. So how about if people who want to change their name are required to swear an affidavit before a commissioner of oaths, and the solicitor then files the affidavit with a change of name registry, rather like the probate registry?

      • 5

        janefae said,

        er, no: we’re coming at this from totally opposite ends of the spectrum. I don’t particularly wish to tighten up procedures. I’d just like banks to be honest about a) what the task is and b) how their requirement links to the task. You’re making the mistake of imagining that the banks actually know what they’re doing on this front…and helping them dig a different hole.

        At base, the job that needs to happen when you “change name” – which isn’t actually a change of name at all, but we’ll get back to it – is prove to the banks that you have the right to access the privileges accruing to the person currently labelled by your name on their system.

        What you call “name” is no more than “label” – and the real issue herer is not “changing name”, but “assuring identity”.

        Now…when it comes to assuring identity when you wish to take £10,000 from one account and put it somewhere else, what do the banks do? Oh, yes. Sometimes they “know” you. Sometimes they do so on the basis that some attribute of yours matches something on their system. Most commonly a signature…but increasingly a biometric like your fingerprint or iris scan. Or they ask you to dredge up some secure item of data – a password – to see if that matches what they hold on their system.

        Do you see the pattern? In every case, in order to prove identity, they need you to show congruence between something that they previously knew about you and that same feature now. With that in place, you shouldn’t need to do anything else…least of all produce some piece of paper that is not centrally registered and provides no guarantee whatsoever of identity between the previous holder of the label and the person now presenting themselves to you.

        So you’d tighten up the central register and start inserting solicitors and the like? Hmmm…either you need a central and comprehensive register to unerpin that…in which case, you could probably do away with the solicitors and just call the base what it then would be…a national identity database (which government has just pledged to abandon)…or you don’t have a central register, and you assume that someone determined to, say, fleece bank accounts of thousands of pounds couldn’t lay their hands on a dodgy solicitor for an hour.


        Its not about tightening up the document you bring with you, because nothing currently in the loop proves before and after. Its quite sdimply about banks recognising that, taking their head out of tyhe sand and growing up.

        jane xx

      • 6

        Alex said,

        I see your point about labels and identity – bit like keys (unique identifiers in databases) and corresponding fields (labels) in a database row, which can be changed.

        Although, previously supplied information to a bank is still open to being obtained by naughty individuals, I think it’s called identity theft. Oooh, this is a fun merry-go-round 🙂

  3. 7

    pollik said,

    Scrub that…Coop have just, today, screwed up in a major way. I have just lost 45 minutes of my life over the ‘voice’ issue. I answered five or six security questions…apparently that is not enough (so what is the point of the questions,then?) and he had to transfer me. Ten minutes later, I am still hanging on.

    I phone back….it turns out that the Fraud Dept closes at 4:00 and they can’t do anything till tomorrow.

    I spend a lot of time abroad…I really cannot be doing with long conversation on an international mobile call.

  4. 8

    janefae said,

    oh…may i ask the Co-op a question about that? Basically, about the security stuff? Won’t identify you…but this sounds thoroughly discriminatory.

    please drop me a line.

    jane xx

  5. 9

    Samantha said,

    I was thinking about going down the Stat-Dec route, My GIC said its a quick cheap way to do things that can be done at my local courthouse.

    Is this a better or worse alternative to deed poll?

    Samantha xoxox

    • 10

      janefae said,

      better or worse for what? Stat dec comes closest, of all the legal docs requested, to having some official sanction, since it must be sworn in front of, i believe, a “notary”…which has some technical definition in law. A deed poll has no such legal weight.

      On t’other hand, a deed poll can be done as DIY for nothing, whereas a stat dec will cost you a little bit. Not much. But it can’t be obtained for free…unless a solicitor owes you a favour. 🙂

      In terms of weight, i have certainly heard of people emigrating and having probs with name change based on or around deed polls: whether the same prob would arise with a stat dec, i am not sure.

      Otherwise, for many purposes, each doc is equally useless. 🙂

      jane xx

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