This week, Ms. McGill, a local Austin woman, was surprised to be told she was dead!
Ms. McGill went to buy a travel trailer and applied for financing. The lender declined her application and informed her that she didn’t qualify for financing because she was dead (at least the credit agencies all had her listed as deceased).
“The financial manager came out and said do you have a copy of your (credit) card because you keep coming up deceased,” McGill recalled. “So I was like, ‘There’s no way.'”
“I even paid at that point to get my credit score,” she said. “You can’t get anything when you’re deceased. No credit scores, nothing, you don’t even exist.”
Turns out Chase Bank was spreading word of her demise — had been for months.
Before that, she tried getting Chase’s attention by not paying her car loan. Didn’t work.
“I stopped making my car payment for the first 25 days and they never called,” McGill said. “Before I had an issue where I was late for $5 and they called me four times a day.”
Then she called the loan department, and hit a brick wall.
McGill asked Chase to check its records. The bank wrote back that after further review, and once again assured her that she had passed on.
So McGill wrote back suggesting that her car note must have been written off.
“I would like Chase to produce the death certificate of my death so I can let myself know I am no longer living,” she said. “Cordially, the dead Helen McGill — hahaha.”
Finally, after a little more back-and-forth, Chase relented and accepted the fact the she was alive and well.
While this is a very funny story, it begs the question, what do you do when the credit agencies think you’re dead? Sheiresa Ngo from Black Enterprise suggests 3 tips for proving your identity in Managing Credit: How to Prove You’re Not Dead.
Being declared dead by the credit bureaus can have serious consequences. Among them are the inability to get a loan, employment, and the loss of your credit score. “No lender is going to want to do business with a person who has a deceased indicator on their credit report because of the possibility of fraud. Employment would also be difficult because it sends up a red flag when anyone sees it’s possible that the person they’re speaking with is not the same person because someone is telling you they’re dead,” says Ulzheimer. Furthermore, qualifying for a loan or credit would not be possible because credit scoring systems won’t score a credit file that says a customer is deceased.
Here are a few tips for proving your identity so that you can get your life back:
- Contact the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration furnishes businesses and government agencies with a list called the Death Master File, which is a list of deceased people who were issued a Social Security Number during their lifetime. If you’re not listed in the Death Master File, and everything shows you’re still alive on their end, request a letter from the Social Security Administration, verifying that you are not deceased. Provide this letter to the credit bureaus so that it can be placed in your file. If you are incorrectly listed in the Death Master File, and the Social Security Administration lists you as deceased, you’ll have to contact your local Social Security office and provide proof that you are alive. You’ll receive a verification document of their current records, which you can use to prove to lenders that you are not dead.
- Call and write all of the consumer reporting agencies. Cover all your bases. In addition to contacting the three major consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian), contact the fourth agency, Innovis.
- Monitor your credit reports. Order your credit reports and look for a deceased indicator next to your accounts, especially if you held an account with someone who recently died.
Live long and prosper!