Legend has it Mark Twain once famously remarked, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” in response to newspaper reports that he had passed away. Whether Twain actually said that or something similar, it shows how much things have changed since his day. In 2023, being incorrectly reported deceased is no laughing matter. It can cause serious problems with your finances by messing up your credit reports.
A false death report can affect your credit in one of two ways. An individual creditor, such as your bank or credit card provider, could inaccurately report that your account is associated with a deceased person. This can happen if someone else associated with the account, such as a co-signer or spouse, has recently died. Another possibility is the Social Security Administration reporting your Social Security number, which credit reporting companies use to help identify a consumer, as belonging to a deceased person.
Who thought you were dead?
Either way, once creditors learn you have “died,” they will start closing your accounts and doing other things that can greatly disrupt your life. What you do in response depends on the source of the fake death report. If it came from a creditor, Experian recommends sending notarized letters to them and the other credit reporting companies. The letter should include a statement that you have not died, along with your full name, mailing address, Social Security number and date of birth to prove your identity.
If the false report was a mistake by SSA, you will see a “deceased indicator” from the agency on one of your reports. If you see this, you will have to contact SSA to get them to correct their error. They will send a letter, which you must pass on to the credit reporters, along with copies of your driver’s license or other government ID and a utility bill or statement from your bank or insurance company.
Responding to errors
Credit reporting mistakes like this are more common than you might think and could be affecting your score. Fortunately, you can take action to correct the record and restore your good credit.