Although it might sound unbelievable, being mistakenly reported dead is a pretty common occurrence. If you have mistakenly been reported as deceased by a credit bureau, it can greatly impact your credit score, credit applications, or insurance.
How False Deceased Notations Can Affect You
Being falsely reported dead is no small issue. Having a deceased marker on your personal file can cause the following:
- Not getting approved for a mortgage
- Not being able to open a bank account
- Not being able to get a license
- Credit card companies revoking your credit cards
- Credit information not being reported
- Cancellation of your insurance policies
Above all, a false deceased notation will cause the FICO scoring model to not generate a credit score. Without that FICO credit score, most financial institutions cannot issue you any line of credit.
Common Causes of False Deceased Notations
Typically, a false death report originates from one of two places:
- The SSA (Social Security Administration)
- 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 purpose of this master list is to create an easy way to share with creditors, lenders, and credit bureaus updated information on who is 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 financial institutions mark a joint account holder, family member, or another associated person as deceased, rather than the person who has actually passed away.
What To Do If You Have Been Mistakenly Reported Dead
Since credit bureaus and financial institutions rely on the SSA’s death record to update their own records, you may need to correct several records with the Social Security Administration, the credit bureaus, as well as any providers to the CRAs.
Here are what steps you should take to reverse a false deceased notation:
- Obtain your credit report from Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.
- Dispute the deceased notation with the credit reporting agencies.
- 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.
- Seek legal counsel. An attorney can help you correct all records and be sure there will be no more issues down the road.
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.