husband's death to credit bureaus
I read with interest the story on reporting a deceased person to
be removed from mailing lists and I have a question about reporting
the death of a family member. Would it be a good idea to report
the death to the three main credit bureaus?
I learned a lesson when I reported the death of my husband to a
credit card company. I wanted to add my daughter as a user on my
credit card and as soon as I said, "My husband died and I would
like to add my daughter," my credit card was canceled with
a stroke of a key. I was shocked to learn that the card belonged
to my husband. Even though he never used it, I did and I paid all
the bills, I was only an authorized user.
For 48 years I mistakenly I thought I had possession of the card
since my name was on it. Not so! Now I need to know if I should
remove his name from the credit reporting agencies.
Thanks for your reply,
-- Joyce Joiner
The story you refer to, "'Deceased
Do Not Contact' list," refers to a list maintained by the
Direct Marketing Association, or DMA, that works to eliminate telemarketing
calls and direct mailings to the deceased. The DMA charges $1 for
this service, and you can register online.
The DMA list is different from the opt-out service
provided by the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry. The credit bureaus
belong to the DMA, but a belt-and-suspenders approach is to also
use the permanent opt-out feature to stop them from sending firm
offers of credit or insurance. This stops the preapproved offers
generated by credit card and insurance providers.
If your husband passed away recently, it's a good
idea to report your husband's death to the consumer reporting agencies
so they won't extend credit to anyone using his identity. The agencies
use a file maintained by the Social Security Administration, or
SSA, to update their records, but that can take a couple of months
from the time a death is reported to the SSA. Bankrate provides
information for the consumer reporting agencies. The Identity
Theft Resource Center has a fact
sheet with additional information.
As you've found out, being an authorized user on his
account doesn't make you an accountholder. The good news is that
the payment history, by law, does show up on your credit report.
Get a free copy of your credit report from the three major credit
reporting agencies to see where you stand on these accounts. Get
copies of his report as well to see if there are additional credit
accounts that need to be closed.
The Bankrate feature, "How
to get your free credit report," tells you how to request
them. In your shoes, I'd also pony up for a credit score from at
least one of the three firms, just to see where you stand. If you
need a credit card to replace the one that was taken from you, use
To ask a question of Dr. Don, go
to the "Ask the Experts"
page, and select one of these topics: "financing a home,"
"saving & investing" or "money."