"Dead" because of a credit report mistake

7 On Your Side with Nina Pineda

Seven On Your Side
October 24, 2011 8:25:06 PM PDT
Rita Katz is very much alive. But she says she was officially declared dead by one of three credit reporting agencies.

"I think it's a glitch somewhere. I mean, I've never been dead! I just don't know how that happened," Katz says.

It's a mystery for the vibrant octogenarian. She has run an art gallery, started a theatre, worked as a campaign staffer and writer. Along the way, she has met Senator Moynihan, Ted Kennedy, and Cliff Robertson.

She feels like she has had 9 lives but a denied credit card application at The Gap unearthed a major problem. The very alive Rita Katz was, on paper, 6 feet under.

"I thought, 'deceased'? That means dead,'" she remembers. "Do they know that means dead?"

She had a lawyer write a letter to resurrect her but months later, she was still getting denial letters for the same reason.

"They're addressed to me telling me that I'm deceased," she says. "Why would they write to me if they thought I wasn't going to be here to answer or to read it or to know I was deceased?"

Yet mistakes on credit reports are not all that unusual. A new study shows that 3 out of 4 people have some sort of mistake on their credit reports.

Financial expert Farnoosh Torabi advises everyone to take advantage of free credit reports annually. Checking your score with each of the three reporting agencies could help you spot an error harming your rating.

"You might find that you are applying for a credit card or a loan and you have a huge set back," Torabi explains. "This poor woman was trying to get one simple credit card and she can't it taken her months!"

After Katz came to us, it took 7 on your side 24-hours to straighten out her credit.

We asked Experian to investigate; the accounts reporting her as deceased were not hers, her file was mixed up. Experian initiated the removal of the items on the reports that were incorrect and Katz was finally approved for her Gap Visa card.

However, she later found that other agencies still had her as deceased. That's why it's so important to check different reporting bureaus, since each offer one free report a year. You can space them out and do one every couple of months to constantly keep a good eye out for mistakes!


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