Dealing with the death of a loved one can be very difficult, and there are many details that must be taken care of amid the grief of loss. Your loved one’s finances may not be at the forefront of your thoughts, but they are an important part of settling affairs and can have lasting consequences for surviving loved ones.
Requesting a credit freeze on the deceased’s credit report is an important step to take early in the process. A credit freeze can help prevent any fraud attempts and allow you to take stock of accounts you may need to deal with on the estate’s behalf later on.
How to notify credit bureaus of death
A person’s credit report is not automatically closed after someone passes away. Instead, credit bureaus wait for notification from the executor of the deceased’s estate or the Social Security Administration. Follow these steps to protect your loved one’s information and notify creditors of their passing.
Request a credit freeze
You’ll need to contact each of the three credit bureaus to request a credit freeze. You can call to request the freeze, then follow up by mail to request the credit report be flagged “Deceased. Do not issue credit.”
When you write your request, you will need to include the full legal name of the deceased person, their date of birth and their date of death. You will also need to include their most recent address and social security number. Lastly, you’ll need to include your name and mailing address.
|TransUnion||P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
|Experian||P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
|Equifax||P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348-5788
Request a return receipt for your records
When you mail off your request, you should do so via mail and request a return receipt.This will add a level of security to your letter and provide you notification of when the request has been received.
Be sure to keep a copy of your request, just in case. And keep track of the date you sent the request, as well as the date of the reply. This information will be helpful in the event you have to send a follow-up request.
Make sure the account has been flagged
When the credit bureau receives your request letter, they will flag the deceased’s report as belonging to someone who has passed away. It’s important that the credit bureaus flag the file of the person who has passed away to protect their information from being compromised. It is a common tactic of identity thieves to steal information from people who have passed away to create new accounts.
Request a copy of the credit report
Having a copy of the deceased’s most recent credit report on file will give you an accurate picture of the status of all of their accounts. If there are any outstanding accounts that need to be resolved, they will be reported here.
You can also check to make sure the account has been flagged. In order to request a copy of the credit report, you will need a copy of a government issued ID, such as a driver’s license. Request a copy from all three bureaus to make sure you have complete information, since not all lenders and creditors report to all three bureaus.
Documentation to have on hand
When you make the request for a credit freeze on behalf of the deceased, you will need to send copies of certain important documents. These documents will serve to verify your relationship to the deceased and your authority to request the freeze. These documents include:
- Copy of the will
- Copy of the executor agreement
- Copy of identification for the requestor
- A certified copy of the death certificate (one with a raised stamp)
Other steps to consider
Closing up financial loose ends after a loved one passes away takes time. Handling their credit report is important, but it is only one step. You’ll need to contact their creditors to cancel their accounts and settle any balances and make sure that mortgages and loans have been settled. You’ll probably also need to take care of your loved one’s tax returns for one final financial year deal with their bank accounts.
It can seem overwhelming, but take it one step at a time. Handling these details calmly and carefully will ensure that your loved one’s accounts will be settled and will remain safe from any attempted compromise.