These kinds of data mistakes can happen in many ways. One way is when someone on a joint account passes away, and the bank carelessly applies the “deceased” notation to both accountholders rather than just one. That information then gets relayed to the consumer reporting agencies, who incorporate the incorrect data into the customer’s reports. Another way this error can occur is when the consumer reporting agencies get an update from the Social Security Administration’s death records and accidentally apply it to a file belonging to someone with a similar name or Social Security number. Finally, financial information belonging to two different people can already be mixed up in a credit reporting agency’s system (perhaps due to a similar name or birthday) and then one person dies.
It is important to be proactive about checking your credit reports for any inaccurate information. However, if you find out about the mistake through a credit denial or otherwise that your credit report has you marked as deceased, you should take immediate action to correct the error. Check your credit reports using AnnualCreditReport.com to discover which credit agency is reporting the error. Then dispute the notation using the methods described on the report. It is best to use certified mail, so that you can keep written records of your correspondence and be sure that the credit reporting agency has received your dispute. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the agency is obligated to review your dispute and investigate it.
If the agency fails to respond to your dispute or does not correct the error, you should consider contacting a consumer attorney to determine if you have a case against the credit reporting agency. The FCRA may make the agency liable for your injuries and your attorneys’ fees.
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