Well, that went well. Very well. All in all, it suggests that I may finally have a good chance to get something done about the scandal that is name change procedures in the UK.
As regular readers may have noticed, I don’t like the way banks, building societies and other financial institutions handle name change. That applies to ALL name change – but is especially relevant where you are talking name changes for women and the trans community.
So far, I feel like I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall. But slowly, slowly, the message seems to be getting thru. The tally of organisations prepared to listen is growing longer. And from today, it certainly feels as though I have enough allies grappling with this issue on the business side of the fence that something can finally be done.
Why so? Well, I’ve been raising the issue of name change whenever, wherever it has felt reasonable to do so. Mostly on the back of complaints, either on my behalf or on behalf of others. Most times, the people I deal with are sympathetic – but the Byzantine nature of most large finance corps means that change, especially when it surfs in on the back of woolly concerns about stuff like diversity, is never easy to push.
Time to change name change
The case for change is simple. For starters, organisations imposing unnecessary conditions on people wishing to change their name are almost certainly breaking the law. Its simple indirect discrimination, courtesy of the Equality Act 2010.
More, they are pissing customers off – which is bad for customer relations. And, the killer: all this froth about name change is mostly ineffective as far as security is concerned.
Now that’s a biggy. Because it means that despite best and very time-consuming efforts, all that various Finance Corps may be doing is racking up extra costs on the security front while leaving themselves very exposed, both legally and actually to ID theft. Actually, because the measures they’ve come up with don’t work, and legally, because if those measures fail despite the dire warnings of jeremiah’s such as my good self, they are very open to being sued for negligence.
So. Here’s where we’re now at. Over the past twelve months, I’ve spoken to and established broadly civilised relations with the Big Two credit referencing agencies (Equifax & Experian), a couple of large banks. Some building socs. A major insurance company. A retailer. And a few more beside. To the point that I am beginning to lose count. Just yesterday, one megacorp sent me – out of the blue! – an offer of £150 which I think, effectively, was an ask that I go away.
I never requested dosh! And I’ll happily trade that offer for the chance to sit down and present my case to their IT and diversity bods.
Meanwhile, back to today. I had a lovely meeting with the diversity lady from yet another of the UK’s finance corps. Wonderful. I didn’t much need to explain. She totally got where I was coming from. had already got it on her own time.
She saw how this name change issue was a major problem for women as well as the trans community. Very quickly we were on to the nitty gritty: how would it be possible to square the various demands for customer respect and privacy against concerns over security and data protection. And was the Gender Recognition Act useful – or just an unguided missile landing smack bang in the middle of an already messy situation?
The outcome? We’re continuing to talk. I’m writing up a paper on this topic shortly for the Institute of Direct Marketing, which should help. And, if we can manage to build on current enthusiasm, then in September or thereabouts, I will put together a conference designed to bring together both those affected by current practice and those trying to do it better: diversity types, security types, data protection types. If you have an interst in this, attending, organising, participating, let me know. No guarantees, but….
After that, we’ll see. But at long last, it feels like the ice is breaking. The snow is melting. The White Witch (OK: I’m a Narnia fan!) is in full retreat.
And, as before, I am more than happy to open the process up to anyone who wants to get involved.