Credit Karma and the IRS Think I’m Dead! What Next?

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  • Credit Karma and the IRS Think I’m Dead! What Next?
22 Apr, 2024
Daniel Cohen
6 min
irs thinks i'm dead

Thousands of Americans are being incorrectly reported as deceased every year by the Social Security Administration.

We work with clients affected by this issue all the time, constantly finding solutions to this problem and helping people correct it and move on with their lives

What might initially sound like a dream come true - that the government agency tasked with collecting your taxes thinks you are no longer alive - quickly becomes a nightmare for thousands of American consumers every year. This is a scenario that consumer lawyers encounter with far too great a frequency as distressed consumers seek assistance. While we have vast experience notifying the IRS that you aren’t dead, we also think you should know how this mistake happens, the damage the mistake can cause to your financial health, and what you can do about it.

What if Credit Karma and the IRS Think I’m Dead?

If you have recently learned that the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and a company called Credit Karma think you are dead, do not panic. This happens to (too) many people every year and it is not good news. But, there are rules and systems in place to fix it and people who know how to make those rules and systems work so that Credit Karma and the IRS no longer think you are deceased. And, if the misidentification has harmed you, you might be able to get compensated for the damage someone else’s error caused you. Your best bet for recovering from an error like this is to work with a deceased reporting attorney, like those at Consumer Attorneys.

What Does Consumer Deceased Mean on Credit Karma?

Credit Karma is a credit reporting company owned by Intuit. Credit Karma relies on two of the three main consumer credit reporting bureaus for the information it gathers and provides to its customers. So, if Credit Karma lists “Consumer Deceased” on your report, it’s because it received false information from from one of those bureaus.

Tried to File Taxes, but the IRS Thinks I'm Deceased

Similarly, the IRS relies on select other agencies for its information. So, if you tried to file your taxes and received word from the IRS that you are deceased, you can be nearly certain that the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) provided them with that information.

While this error will temporarily prevent you from filing your taxes, the mistake, if not fixed quickly, can also lead to many larger and more disastrous consequences. The good news is you can fix the problem.

Is Being Accidentally Declared Dead Common for Credit Karma and IRS?

Reports vary on how common this is. Low estimates suggest this happens to about 7,000 people per year. Higher estimates place that number much higher, with nearly 90,000 people per year mistakenly reported as deceased on credit report. There are several variations on how this happens.

  • Credit Karma says I'm deceased. This likely means that Credit Karma received false information from one of two credit bureaus that provides data to for Credit Karma reports. You will need to dispute this with the credit bureaus. A credit report attorney can help you with this process. Credit Karma deceased seems like a small error but it can cause huge problems. Contact an attorney before Credit Karma deceased becomes a huge problem.
  • IRS thinks I’m dead.Handling this will depend on why the IRS thinks you are dead.
  • IRS kicked back tax return because I’m deceased. If this happens, the IRS received your tax return but was unable to process it because you were mistakenly reported dead in IRS data files. The IRS will send you a form called the CP01H form that provides instructions on how to fix the error. Usually, this involves contacting the SSA and telling them, “the IRS says I am dead and won’t let me submit my taxes,” or “IRS said my social security number is deceased,” or “I can’t file taxes because IRS thinks I’m deceased.”
  • IRS says I’m dead but Social Security says I’m alive. If this happens, the IRS received information that you were dead from another source. Unlike Credit Karma, the IRS does not get information from credit reporting companies, so this likely means that if you have corrected the misinformation with the SSA, the SSA has not yet submitted updates to the IRS. Contacting the SSA and telling them, “the IRS thinks I’m dead,” could help you identify the problem.

The consequences for the people who are declared Credit Karma deceased are significant. See below for more details on what can go wrong.

Credit Karma: Deceased Appears on Credit Report

Credit Karma showing deceased on your Credit Karma report should alarm you. If your account has become Consumer Deceased, Credit Karma got the information from someone else, so you must dispute the error with the credit reporting agencies.

Why Does Credit Karma Say I'm Deceased?

Errors and inaccuracies of all types appear with some frequency on a credit report. Your credit report is a thorough report of your financial history. Mistakes happen because credit reporting agencies gather data at astonishing speeds, simple administrative errors can cause huge problems, one misspelling can create mass confusion, and credit reporting agencies sometimes do not use the care they are required to use. In addition, workers are overworked, and sometimes the process of the credit reporting agencies is flawed. Sometimes, the mistakes concern outdated account information, misreported balance amounts, inaccurate repayment information, or reporting closed accounts as open. Sometimes, the mistakes are more glaring. Like when it says Consumer Deceased on Credit Karma.

Why do You Need to Fix this Error?

While it looks like a Credit Karma glitch, the deceased designation is something that came from somewhere else. Credit Karma showing a consumer deceased means that at least one of the three major credit reporting agencies has identified you as deceased.

If a credit reporting company thinks you are deceased, you will be unable to apply for any new loans or credit. It could affect other activities, like if you are applying for a mortgage, apartment rental, job, or other opportunity where your background becomes relevant. Anyone screening can freeze your credit and halt financial activities, like filing taxes. If you are mistakenly identified as deceased for too long, the credit reporting companies may delete your credit history. This will further threaten your access to credit and tax filing, resulting in possible criminal charges.

What Will It Take to Repair This Mistake?

The solution to this involves more than writing a letter to Credit Karma saying, “I am not deceased Credit Karma.” You will need to write a letter to the credit reporting companies, alerting them to the problem and telling them to fix it. A letter saying, “Credit Karma showing I’m deceased” or “Credit Karma says I’m dead” will not be enough. You will need to provide them with some evidence that you are living, like a utility bill, account statement, or something similar. We suggest filing this dispute via certified mail so that you have documentation of the dispute. This is important should legal action be appropriate later.

Legal action? The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) requires credit reporting agencies to investigate your dispute and fix it within 30 days. If they do not investigate or if they do not fix the error, then legal action may be appropriate. Laws exist so that people are treated fairly. Sometimes that means big companies need to compensate consumers for the damage their mistakes have caused.

While you can do this on your own, a background check lawyer who knows how credit reporting agencies operate, who knows the laws that govern reporting agencies, who can take care of the timely processes involved, who can offer support, and who can, if necessary, file a lawsuit against the big corporations, will make the process go more smoothly.


“Credit Karma Consumer Deceased” on the report of a living consumer is both a tiny administrative error and a huge problem for the consumer. Call Consumer Attorneys for help in fixing it. We can help you fix your Credit Karma deceased designation and also make sure your rights to sue are preserved should we discover damage to your financial health.

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Unlike other attorneys, we know how this mistake happens and have helped thousands of people recover from reporting errors just like this one. When you say, “Credit Karma says I’m dead” or “Credit Karma showing I’m deceased,” we will know just what to do.


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About the author
Daniel Cohen
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Daniel Cohen is the Founder of Consumer Attorneys. Daniel manages the firm’s branding, marketing, client intake and business development efforts. Since 2017, he is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the National Consumer Law Center. Mr. Cohen is a nationally-recognized practitioner of consumer protection law. He has a wealth of proven legal experience in the US in: collective claims, representing visually impaired people who believe their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act have been violated in both the physical and digital environments, corporate governance and dispute resolution. Read more

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