What if you tried to get a loan or a new credit card and were told, “Sorry, we can’t give this to you because our records say you’re no longer alive”? You’d be pretty confused, right?
This error, while it may seem far-fetched, is a reality for some consumers and stems from inaccuracies in the credit reporting system.
How a Credit Report Can Inaccurately Report You as Dead
There’s a unique code on credit reports called a “deceased indicator.” It’s a tag that the big credit bureaus— Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—use to mark a consumer as dead. If you see one next to your name, it means that somewhere along the line, someone mixed up your info, and now one (or more) of these companies thinks you’ve passed away.
How Does My Credit Information Get Mixed With Someone Dead?
You might wonder, “Don’t they check these things properly?” Sadly, they do not always check as well as they should. They’ve got access to official records that say who’s alive and who’s not. Still, sometimes, they don’t cross-reference them when making a credit report. And it’s not just a tiny mistake; it’s a big deal causing headaches for living, breathing people. Despite credit reporting agencies knowing this is a problem for years, even after thousands of lawsuits from consumers being marked as deceased and consumer complaints, they still make this error.
3 Major Consequences of a Deceased Indicator on Your Credit Report
Now, why is this deceased indicator such a problem?
First, if you’re “deceased,” according to your credit report, they stop keeping track of your credit score. Because there is no credit score, you won’t be able to build or improve your credit. No credit score will affect your ability to qualify for loans, mortgages, insurance, and other financial products. All of this is due to the inaccurate deceased mark on your credit report.
Second, a deceased indicator on your credit report can alert your existing creditors that you are dead and that they should not issue any credit to you. Your current accounts can be closed by your existing creditors. This can cause severe disruptions to your everyday life. Imagine going to buy groceries, and your card doesn’t work anymore. It can also cause problems verifying your identity for certain transactions or services.
Third, it can expose you to identity theft risks, like someone using your personal information to open fraudulent accounts in your name. Although the deceased indicator should warn creditors that you are not alive, some identity thieves attempt to bypass this security measure by using fake documents.
How to Prevent Being Marked As Deceased on My Credit Report
There is no way to prevent this from happening to you. Still, you can regularly monitor your credit to minimize any damage.
You can get free copies of your credit reports every 12 months from www.annualcreditreport.com. This website will provide copies of your credit report from the three large credit bureaus.
What to Do if Your Credit Report Shows You as Deceased
If you are being marked deceased on your credit report, don’t panic. You can dispute errors on your credit report with the credit reporting agency or agencies that reported you as deceased. Also, inform any affected creditors that the deceased mark is incorrect.
Working With a Consumer Protection Law Firm to Get a Deceased Mark Removed
Francis, Mailman, Soumilas, P.C. offers expert consumer protection legal services. Our seasoned attorneys specialize in credit reporting issues and correcting credit bureau mistakes. Work with our dedicated team to fight to correct credit report deceased errors. Our firm provides not just representation but also the peace of mind that comes with knowing your case is in capable hands. Contact us today for a free case review.