How Long Does It Take To Fix A Mistake On A Credit Report?

Deceased Credit Report

There are many reasons to check your credit score through the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) at least once a year. But, did you know that one of the things you need to check is if your file is marked as deceased credit report? Checking these sites regularly can keep you from discovering the error when you go to make a major life change such as moving or getting a new job. 

Each year, as many as 14,000 US citizens are wrongfully listed as deceased on the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (DMF) due to a funeral home, hospital, hospice, or creditor report stating an account with your social security number as deceased. This is a large number of people that have been inconvenienced on a regular basis. This mistake happens when an employee of one of these agencies types the 9-digit number incorrectly, or if a creditor selects the wrong name from an address on a shared account.  If you have been marked as deceased on your deceased credit report, please contact us today.

Deceased Credit Report Issues

Many times, the first people that will realize something is wrong are people who receive Medicare, Social Security, or disability benefits, because the insurance coverage and checks will stop coming if you are dead. In this post-COVID era, stimulus checks will also be withheld, but are trickier to track. Sometimes, the Social Security Administration or your bank may send out a condolence letter informing you of your death.

Besides being illegal according to the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act Section 1681e(b) which states “whenever a consumer reporting agency prepares a consumer report, it shall follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information”, your credit score returns to zero, preventing you from: getting a bank account, credit card, or mortgage, renewing your driver’s license, getting health insurance, finding employment or an apartment, or receiving personal or student loans. Additionally, creditors, sellers, and landlords may not always notify you that a mistake has been made, and may actually believe you are trying to use a deceased person’s social security number, not realizing it is you. You also will not be able to file your taxes or get your refund if the error occurred after filing.

How Common Are Credit Report Errors?

Mistakenly Reported as Deceased

Once you discover that you have been mistakenly reported as deceased, the first thing you need to do is contact Cook Law at (314)260-6116. The sooner you call the better, as the entire process can take months or even years to clear up, and can become more difficult to clear up as time passes. As a firm dedicated to helping individuals obtain compensation for credit cases like these, we will help you sue the credit reporting agencies for failure to perform due diligence. If you suffer the loss of a job, home loan, or apartment lease due to being on the DMF, we may be able to sue on your behalf for compensation.

Your attorney at Cook Law will help you obtain copies of your credit reports from all three major credit reporting agencies, as you will not necessarily have access to all of your credit reports, depending on which credit bureau the creditor marks your death in (this is why it is important to always check all three credit bureaus, not just one) and deal with the Social Security Office.  You will have to provide one of the following original in-date pieces of identification to prove your identity:

  • passport; 
  • driver’s license; 
  • employee ID card; 
  • military record; 
  • school ID card, record, or report card; 
  • marriage or divorce record; 
  • adoption record; 
  • health insurance card; (not including Medicare); 
  • certified copy of medical record; 
  • life insurance policy; 
  • life insurance policy; 
  • court order for name change; or 
  • church membership

Once your file has been fixed, the Social Security office will give you a letter entitled “Erroneous Death Case- Third Party Contact Notice” to give to banks, doctors, or others that have denied you due to you erroneously being reported as dead. Make sure you keep extra copies in a safe location for about a year after the date on the letter in the event you are still listed as dead with certain companies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act also requires that the credit bureaus pay for correcting your file and restoring your credit.

Then, it is important to keep checking your credit reports to make sure your credit score is restored and that you are no longer mistakenly reported as deceased. This would also be a good time to cancel any accounts that you may not use and enroll in a credit protection or fraud detection plan. As a full service consumer law firm, Cook Law will guide you with any of these other choices you wish to make.