What to do if you are mistakenly reported as deceased by TransUnion?

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  • What to do if you are mistakenly reported as deceased by TransUnion?
12 Jun, 2024
Daniel Cohen
7 min
TransUnion Deceased

The Best Way to Fix a TransUnion Deceased Alert on Your Credit Report Is to Know Your Rights

Have you been mistakenly reported as deceased by TransUnion? It may seem ridiculous, but now you have to prove that you aren't. We explain how this mistake occurs, how you can fix it, what your rights are under the law, how best to protect yourself from the worst financial and emotional consequences, and how to get compensation. Call us today!

Did you just discover that you are dead, according to TransUnion? This can be a shocking and upsetting revelation, particularly since it can have an outsized impact on your creditworthiness and your overall financial and emotional well-being.

At Consumer Attorneys, we’ve successfully helped thousands of consumers in this situation, so we know how to navigate the legal landscape better than anyone. If you receive a TransUnion deceased alert, we can guide you through the dispute process, advise you on your rights under the law, file a lawsuit to restore your credit health, and compensate you for the harm you experienced as a result.

Keep reading to be well-informed, learn where to start, and understand how to secure the resolution you want.

Mistakenly Reported as Deceased TransUnion

This is the kind of discovery that can come to light right when you are most in need of an accurate and life-affirming credit report. For instance, when you’ve applied for a job, a car loan, a mortgage, or other exciting opportunity. Or, perhaps you discovered it when your household received condolences in the mail from your bank or credit card company, wishing them well in light of your passing?

Unfortunately, no matter how you discover it, being mistakenly reported as deceased by TransUnion is the kind of error that has far-reaching consequences, and resolving this discrepancy needs to become your main focus. So, if you’ve been frantically researching “What to do if TransUnion says I’m deceased,” you’ve landed in the right place. We have the answers you’re looking for.

Why Does the TransUnion Report Say I’m Deceased?

Your credit report is showing you’re deceased because TransUnion is reporting a data error that it likely pulled from another source.

You probably know that TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian are referred to as credit bureaus. However, this term is used to describe them because they are the three biggest, nationally used credit reporting agencies (CRAs). There are actually many CRAs of varying sizes. CRAs gather, review, and compile consumer data into credit reports.

CRAs get the data from companies referred to as data furnishers because they furnish (or supply) the data that goes into the reports. The data furnishers are the names you’re familiar with as your credit card companies, banks, service providers, etc., and municipal records and the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The data furnishers and the CRAs are supposed to provide quality assurance so that the data they report about an individual consumer is accurate, but the web of data is so vast that many things can go wrong. Your TransUnion report can be mistakenly flagged as deceased because of information received at any point in this process or from data anywhere in your credit history.

Four main things cause a TransUnion account to be erroneously designated as deceased:

  1. Input errors: Even a simple mistake at the data entry level can cause a deceased alert on your record. For instance, names, dates, locations, and birthdates can be inaccurately entered into the system at a CRA, data furnisher, or the SSA.
    When this happens at the SSA, it can result in your Social Security Number (SSN) being flagged as belonging to a deceased consumer.
  2. Death of shared account holder: This can occur if you hold joint or affiliated financial accounts and the other person does actually die. This legitimate deceased designation for your co-account holder can then inadvertently get linked to your name or SSN.
  3. Co-Mingled or Mixed Files: Mixed files are credit files containing data about two unaffiliated individuals. They are also called “co-mingled files.” The mixing of files usually occurs due to input errors (see above) or inadequate review by the CRA receiving consumer data.
    CRAs use algorithms to identify and collect data on specific consumers when they run reports. So, if TransUnion’s collection algorithm erroneously draws in data that belongs to another consumer, it can end up in your report, or you can end up flagged as deceased.
    Of course, CRAs, including TransUnion, should have protocols in place to catch and remove incorrect data, but careless review and investigation is a common problem.
  4. Fraud or Identity Theft: Unfortunately, many problems can result from identity theft or fraud, and a credit report showing you’re deceased at TransUnion is among them. Once scammers and thieves have access to your data, an error, inaccuracy, or fraudulent information can be generated from any number of sources and impact your creditworthiness. This includes the false report of your death.
    Preventing identity theft and fraud starts with protecting your privacy and security online to the extent possible. The federal government provides tips and info to aid in this process. Identity theft | USAGov.

Why You Need to Fix This Error

It is critical that you fix this error. The appearance of any inaccuracies in your TransUnion credit report is something to be concerned about, but a false designation of death can have particularly far-reaching consequences.

You can lose access to your credit, including open lines of credit, credit cards, loan applications, etc. You can be denied mortgage, auto, or educational loan approval. You can also lose access to your assets. This happens because banks, retirement accounts, etc., believing you are deceased, close and lock accounts. You can also be turned down for employment or rental opportunities. This can happen quickly once the Social Security Administration (SSA) includes your Social Security Number in its Death Master File (DMF).

Because of the potential for financial and emotional harm arising from a situation like this, error correction in light of a false deceased designation should be treated as an on-fire emergency.

What to do if TransUnion Lists You as Deceased

If your credit report shows "deceased" mark at TransUnion, you need to take immediate action to dispute TransUnion credit report. You’ll dispute directly with TransUnion and, if necessary, the Social Security Administration. See below for the exact steps you need to take.

How to Dispute a Death on a TransUnion Credit Report

Objecting to an erroneous death alert on your TransUnion credit report involves:

  • formally disputing the deceased designation
  • going through an identity authentication process, including the provision of documentation
  • filing a lawsuit if necessary

Correcting a Deceased Indicator on Your Credit Report

  1. Contact an attorney. A knowledgeable and skilled consumer protection attorney is your greatest asset when dealing with a reporting error of this degree. The consequences can be tremendous, and having a legally savvy advocate on your side throughout the process is the best approach to ensuring your rights are protected, your access to credit and assets is restored, and nothing goes overlooked.
    At Consumer Attorneys, our attorneys have seventy-five years of combined experience helping consumers navigate situations exactly like this. We know the federal and state laws that afford you legal rights and hold CRAs and data furnishers accountable to their legal obligations. We know the time frames in which they must respond, investigate, and make corrections. We also know the pitfalls, stalls, and delays that are commonplace and how to proceed when an investigation is inadequate, a correction is not made, or compensation is necessary.
  2. Review your credit report. Review your TransUnion credit report, and review your Experian and Equifax credit reports. There is sometimes variation among the things reported from each credit bureau, so this is essential. Flag every item in each report that that is inaccurate, misleading, or false, including any deceased designation.
    If you were denied access to a loan or a job due to the deceased designation in your TransUnion credit report, you have the right to get a copy of the report for free. In addition, you always have the right to access a free annual credit report from each of the big three CRAs: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
    There are three ways that consumers can request a copy of their free credit report: online at annualcreditreport.com, by phone at 877-322-8228, or by mailing a request form, which can be printed at www.annualcreditreport.com. Online requests should only be made through the above government-verified site.
  3. Dispute the deceased designation with TransUnion. TransUnion provides information on its website for how to file a dispute regarding data in your credit report. BE AWARE that online platforms allow consumers to dispute information in their credit reports. For instance, TransUnion’s website contains a “Start a Dispute” link. However, the use of this convenient platform usually requires that you waive your right to bring a lawsuit, which we strongly advise against doing. Until the error is corrected and your credit profile is restored, anything is possible. You may need to use litigation as an effective tool for resolution down the road. For this reason, we recommend disputing false death designations (and any other errors) via certified mail.
  4. Dispute the deceased designation with the SSA. Filing a formal dispute to remove yourself from the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (DMF) may also be necessary. If so, you must undertake an in-person authentication process at your local SSA office. The SSA keeps an updated list of the documents you will need to provide in order to verify your status as living. Online Services | SSA Please note that copies of documents are not sufficient. You will need originals for everything.
  5. Submit requested documentation for identity verification. This is the step when you prove that you’re not a ghost. Whether you’re submitting to TransUnion or the SSA, pay attention to the list of documents required for validation of your identity. Each may require different documents or have rules concerning how the documents are to be presented. (Remember, the SSA requires an in-person visit and originals only.) Upon receipt, review, and investigation, they should update your financial records accordingly.
  6. Don’t let your guard down. Unfortunately, throughout this process, and despite legal deadlines, stalls, delays, and deadends are common. Investigations may be inadequate or incomplete, or corrections may not be made even after your identity and status as a living, breathing human being has been confirmed. Now is the time to contact an attorney if you still need to do so.

Benefits of Professional Legal Support at Consumer Attorneys

The benefits of receiving professional legal support at Consumer Attorneys are enormous. While you can simply move through the steps of the dispute process yourself, following TransUnion’s guidelines and our recommendations (see above), this area of the law is governed by both federal and state regulations, making it far more nuanced and complex than the dispute process necessarily gives the impression.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates TransUnion and the other CRAs and data furnishers, setting forth consumer rights and company obligations, setting deadlines and time frames, and providing consumers access to compensation. Most states have equivalent laws that work in conjunction with the FCRA. Our attorneys have years of experience practicing consumer protection law, fighting for the rights of consumers under the FCRA, and holding CRAs accountable.

Working with our top-tier team at Consumer Attorneys means that you won’t have to figure it out or suffer through it alone. We will guide you through the dispute and remediation process from day one until full resolution. We can also get you compensation for any harm you sustain as a result.

How Much Does it Cost?

It doesn’t cost you anything upfront or out of pocket.

When you call, chat, or email, we’ll schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation. If we don’t take your case, there is no fee, period. If we do take your case, our costs and fees are paid by the companies we sue.

Ask for Our Help Now

If all you know so far is that you’ve been designated deceased by TransUnion, we can take it from here. If you’ve gotten far enough along to have figured out that correcting this error is more complex than it seems, let us take over on your behalf.

Consumer Attorneys has talented consumer protection lawyers in twenty states and counting. Plus, we maintain a thriving attorney referral network, so we will always be able to help you, whether we represent you ourselves or get you to another attorney who can.

There are several ways to reach us: call +1 877-615-1725, email [email protected], fill out the online intake form, or use our virtual chat option

We look forward to helping you!


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Daniel Cohen is the Founding Partner of Consumer Attorneys
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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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