Of all the cases I have handled regarding credit reporting errors, I could never have imagined trying to prove a client being alive as one of them. Kimberly Haman, a 46-year-old St. Louis woman, has been fighting to have her “deceased” status corrected for almost a year. In February 2013 Ms. Haman was required to file a credit application to add her name to her aging parents’ bank account with Heartland Bank. She hesitated due to preparing to refinance her home, but was assured this was routine and would have no effect on her credit report. In March when Ms. Haman applied to refinance her home, she was told her application was on hold due to Heartland reporting her deceased on her Equifax report. Ms. Haman contacted Heartland and was assured she was listed as alive and that Equifax would be notified. In June when Ms. Haman again applied for the refinance, she was once again told she was listed as deceased. After calls to Heartland failed, she contacted Equifax directly, thinking this could be easily resolved.
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Believing her July report from Equifax showing no reference to her being deceased had finally resolved the issue, Ms. Haman applied for a credit card. She was shocked to receive a denial based on Heartland and Equifax still reporting her deceased. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit reporting agencies to follow procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of consumer information. The issue of someone being alive or deceased is such an erroneous error, one would think to be corrected with ease and speed; however, as is often the case, even simple issues can be a nightmare to correct.
Ms. Haman, getting nowhere with Equifax and Heartland Bank, filed suit on 2/3/2014 against the bank and Equifax to address the matter. Unfortunately, often times it takes a lawsuit to get these errors corrected. Fortunately, the Fair Credit Reporting Act allows for the award of attorney’s fees, which allows firms like us to represent individuals without substantial money upfront.