So My Credit Card Company Thinks I’m Dead

PHOTO: Credit scores can be ruined if you are mistakenly reported as deceased.

Dear ABC News Fixer: I have one foot in the grave. I am unable to make a payment to my credit card company because they claim I am dead.

This dates back to July. I was unable to make a payment online as I customarily did and came to find out that I was reported as “deceased” on the account. Because I was dead, they couldn’t give me information about the account.

I grew more concerned when they wanted my pay stub to verify I was alive and who I said I was. After arguing, I was finally given another option, which was to send them a notarized document that stated I was alive.

I got a notary at my bank to help me and I sent them the paperwork. But now I am six months delinquent and I fear my credit is ruined. I am usually a lot more successful at fighting these types of issues. What can I do?

- Jeff Novak, Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Dear Jeff: Well, this sure was a mess. You told us still don’t know how you ended up as “deceased” on their ledger in the first place. You’re said you’re a happily married 30-something guy who is not into pranks.

If it’s any consolation, you’re not the only living person mistakenly classified as dead. An investigation by the Social Security Office of the Inspector General found that between May 2007 and April 2010, there more than 36,000 incorrect entries in the agency’s “death master file,” which is a whole lot of not-dead dead people. More recently, a 2013 GAO report found that between February 2012 and January 2013, nearly 8,200 supposedly dead people were taken off the death rolls because of mistakes.

Your problem was aggravated because in your frustration, you stopped wanting to deal with it. Over the ensuing months your balance became even bigger with unpaid late fees and interest and it eventually exceeded your credit limit.

The ABC News Fixer emailed Credit One about your troubles. Soon after, you received a call from a Credit One representative. She told you she had your notarized statement and you are once again alive on the account. They also credited you $502.17 for finance charges, late fees and an annual fee adjustment. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that your credit will recover.

You can get free credit reports from all three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com. All consumers should do this -- consider it a yearly check-up to make sure you’re still alive.

- The ABC News Fixer

Got a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.

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