Rejected for credit maybe it’s because you’re dead – trichomoniasis diagnosis

When Willis followed up, he learned that one of his lenders, Capital One, had written off his charges as uncollectible because they believed that he was dead. Experian then froze his report, shutting out the mortgage company that Willis had enlisted to help him buy his house.

“When a credit card company declares you dead, then they send that notice on to the credit reporting agencies and then your credit history gets locked down,” explains Willis. “You cannot access it. Nobody can access it because of the fact they assume you’re dead.”

At that point, getting mistakenly declared dead shifts from being a minor annoyance to potentially becoming a big and costly problem, says Jim Francis, a consumer lawyer in Philadelphia who has represented multiple clients who have been killed off on paper.

“The real problem with being marked as deceased on a credit account is you can’t get a credit score,” says Francis. “It’s impossible to get credit to the extent that most banks, mortgages, car dealerships require a credit score to assess risk. They have no possibility of getting that and so there’s no way of getting credit.”

However, that’s a long time to wait if a consumer is in the midst of applying for a time-sensitive loan, such as a mortgage, or is applying for a job and needs an immediate credit check, says Todd Mark, a nonprofit consultant and former vice president for education at the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas.

Also, be sure to send a notarized copy of your dispute and copies of supporting evidence to any furnisher or creditor that you believe may be responsible for the mistake. If you believe the Social Security Administration is responsible for the mistake, contact your local Social Security office.

In addition, write down the name and number of anyone you talk to over the phone, including what they promised they would do for you, says Mark, of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Dallas. “Create your own paper trail at home, and don’t be afraid to step up who you talk to,” he says.

If nothing works and your credit information is still shut down, seek legal help. Your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act entitle you to seek legal action when legitimate errors – such as being mistakenly declared dead – aren’t corrected in a reasonable period of time.

“The natural tendency is just to boil up, but it doesn’t help anyone to do that,” says Willis. “You just have to try to reason with them. Try to remain calm and reasoned and try not to appear like a nut.” It may take months – or years – to be reborn

“They tried sending detailed disputes, documentation [saying], ’Here I am. This is my Social Security number. This is obviously not me.’ And surprisingly, in a bizarre fashion, the credit reporting agency verified them as being deceased,” he says.

Credit reporting agencies are required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act to thoroughly investigate any item on a credit report that the consumer says is wrong. However, in many cases, Francis says, the original furnisher of the information is the one who got the record wrong, complicating the dispute.

“They’re not really that interested in conducting investigations, either,” he says. “It’s not really a profit center for them, so they are doing the bare minimum.” As a result, the creditor sometimes ends up repeating the same inaccurate information to the credit bureaus.

But in a 2015 settlement with the state of New York, the bureaus agreed to review disputes more thoroughly on their own if a data furnisher reviewed the dispute and said it was accurate and a consumer submitted supporting documentation proving the error was real.

“They have the same duty that the credit reporting agency has,” he says. “Both the credit reporting agency and the furnisher must conduct a reasonable investigation.” So consumers have the legal ammunition to fight back against credit reporting agencies’ and furnishers’ claims that they are dead.

When that happens, proving you are who you say you are can be a challenge, she says. “First, you have to prove that you are you, and then you have to be able to validate that this [other] person is deceased,” says Heck. Beware of the Death Master File

Once a consumer is listed as dead in the Death Master File, numerous stakeholders are notified, including the credit bureaus and other government agencies. Soon after, consumers’ credit reports are shut down, their benefits are cut off and they are barred from getting a new job because they don’t have a living Social Security number.

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