Mistakenly Reported Dead? What To Do Next

Last Updated: Nov 20, 2022

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Although it might sound unbelievable, being mistakenly reported dead is a more common problem than you would think.  It is a possibility to be mistakenly reported as deceased by one of the major credit bureau. You will need to act swiftly to mitigate the potential losses you could sustain due to this error.

How False Deceased Notations Can Affect You?

Being falsely reported dead is no small issue.  Deceased remarks on your personal file can cause the following:

  1. Not getting approved for a mortgage,
  2. Not being able to open a bank account,
  3. Not being able to get a license ,
  4. Credit lines like loans and credit cards are revoked,
  5. Credit information no longer update, and
  6. Insurance policies revoked/cancelled.

Above all, a false deceased notation will halt all FICO updates preventing you from generating a credit score. Without that FICO credit score, most financial institutions cannot extend any new lines of credit to you, effectively nullifying your access to credit.

Common Causes Of False Deceased Notations?

Typically, a false death report originates from one of two places: 

  1. The SSA (Social Security Administration)
  2. A creditor

Every year it’s estimated the SSA falsely marks over 12,000 people as deceased. The SSA keeps a Death Master List of everyone who has an SSN and has died. The master list is used to create an easy way to share information with creditors, lenders, and credit bureaus who require updates on the deceased.

The names of the deceased typically come from death certificates, but sometimes the SSA makes a mistake by adding the wrong person to the Death Master Files. 

You can also be mistakenly reported dead by a creditor. Creditors are required to close the accounts of those who are deceased. However, sometimes clerical errors occurs like accidentally marking the wrong individual as deceased, due to a mistake in identity, or even a simple wording accident.

What To Do If You Have Been Mistakenly Reported Dead?

The SSA’s death record are used to update the records of financial insitutions and credit bureaus. You should review your records in case you need to correct any records with the Social Security Administration, the credit bureaus, or any providers to the CRAs. 

Here are what steps you should take to reverse a false deceased notation:

  1. Obtain your credit report from Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.
  2. Dispute the deceased notation with the credit reporting agencies.
  3. Prove you are not deceased. To do this, call the SSA to let them know of the mistake. Request a letter verifying that you are alive.
  4. Seek legal counsel. An attorney can help you correct all records and be sure there will be no more issues down the road. 

Bottom Line

Unfortunately, false death notations are fairly common. Over 12,000 people will be affected each year. Being mistakenly marked as deceased can have a big impact on your ability to utilize your credit. 

If you find you have been mistakenly reported dead, it’s important to follow the steps to correct it. If you do not correct an accidental deceased notation, it will continue to negatively impact your credit.

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