There can be a lot to take care of when a loved one passes away, but it’s important to take the time to notify credit reporting agencies so the individual’s credit report can be marked as deceased. We will periodically receive notification from the Social Security Administration about those who have passed away. However, notifying us on your own can be faster and is an important step in the care of your loved one to help protect their credit report from fraud.
Commonly referred to as “ghosting”, fraudsters sometimes use the personal information of someone who has passed away and use it to open up new credit accounts or file faulty tax returns. Follow the steps below to update your loved one’s credit report and give yourself peace of mind:
1. Ensure the Social Security Administration has updated their files for your loved one
You can find the contact info for your local Social Security office online. If you’re working with a funeral director, they may have reported on behalf of the family already. Check with them to see if this is part of their services.
2. Write a letter to one of the nationwide credit reporting agencies
Whichever agency you contact—TransUnion, Equifax or Experian—will then notify the other two on your behalf. Along with a copy of the death certificate, please also include the following for the deceased:
- Legal name
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Date of death
If you are the spouse of the deceased, your letter should also include your name, mailing address and a copy of a piece of identification, such as a driver’s license. If the notification is from an executor or someone other than a spouse, please include a copy of the requestor’s identification and a copy of the will, executor agreement or Power of Attorney documentation. The information can be mailed to TransUnion at:
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Once we receive the letter and supporting documents, we’ll note the individual is deceased on their credit report within five days. We will also notify the other two credit reporting agencies. When the file has been marked, we will send a letter to the spouse or third party to let them know the request has been processed.
3. Review your loved one’s credit report
When you send the notice to TransUnion and include the required information, you can also request a copy of your loved one’s credit report. Reviewing their report can help you gather important information about their credit accounts and any outstanding debt. If you want credit reports from the other two agencies, you’ll need to request a report individually from each.
4. Contact all creditors that the deceased person did business with
Note the credit accounts in your loved one’s report as you’re reviewing it. You can find lender contact information with each account. Inform them of their passing and request they mark their files accordingly. Be sure to forward the creditors a copy of the death certificate once you receive it as well. Joint accounts can usually remain open, but you’ll want to confirm this with the lender.
5. Report any suspected fraud found on their credit report
When reading their credit report, in addition to gathering account information, you should also be on the lookout for any activity that seems suspicious. If you suspect there’s fraudulent activity on a deceased person’s credit report, notify the lenders for the accounts in question. You should also report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission and get a copy of an Identity Theft Report. It’s also a good idea to file a police report documenting the fraud. They may require your Identity Theft Report from the FTC to launch their investigation.
We know there’s a lot to manage when a loved one passes away. Taking time to protect their credit and personal information can help save you from the time and stress incurred from identity theft recovery. We’re here to help you through every step to keep your loved one’s personal information safe.