Maintaining good credit is difficult enough under normal circumstances, but for New Jersey native Bea Cohen, it’s been next to impossible to get back on right track after accidentally being labeled deceased. The 81-year-old Somerset grandmother of four told the New Jersey Star Ledger that this error has not only impacted her credit reports, but her entire life.
Credit Impacted after Hospital Labels Woman Deceased
In November 2004, Bea Cohen was admitted to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for heart surgery. After the successful surgery, Cohen was discharged to a rehab facility.
She told the Star Ledger she noticed on her discharge paperwork that her release from the hospital had been marked as “deceased” rather than “discharged,” but she thought nothing of the simple error. However, her sentiment toward this mistake changed in July 2006 when she was denied a Target credit card because she was “deceased.”
Shortly after the incident, Cohen contacted credit reporting agency, Equifax, and the hospital to clear up the confusion. Though she provided Social Security records, verification of employment and a current W-2 tax form, her records were not updated.
After running into a similar incident in 2007, she resubmitted her documents to the hospital. This did not stop her from being denied credit in 2011 and another time in 2012; the reason each time being that she was deceased.
Getting Credit Reports Corrected
After hearing Cohen’s story, the Star Ledger took the matter into its own hands by contacting each credit bureau on her behalf to correct her credit reports.
Both Equifax and Transunion had her listed as deceased in 2007. Transunion told the paper that it corrected its error the same year. Unfortunately, the error was still listed on the Equifax report. After presenting the same documents Cohen had provided years prior, the credit bureau said it updated her information and now she may obtain credit.
While most individuals are not accidentally labeled deceased, there are a number of circumstances like identity theft or general errors that can result in incorrect information landing on your credit report. So what can you do to correct the information?
First, you want to hold on to critical records that could impact your credit, including medical records, credit card statements and mortgage loan documents, along with forms of identification like your Social Security card and birth certificate. This way, if you ever need to prove your case, you have the documents to back up your claims.
You also have to prepare to remain diligent in fighting incorrect information on your credit report since credit bureaus don’t always have the best track records for accurately updating reports.
If you keep these ideas in mind along with regularly monitoring your credit to improve your chances of catching a mistake before it causes too much damage, you may have more success maintaining good credit scores and reports.