When someone dies their credit report doesn’t automatically close. Periodically, the credit bureaus receive notifications from the Social Security Administration of those who have deceased. But generally it’s faster if you notify the credit agencies yourself.
Here’s how you can notify the credit bureaus of the death of a loved one by placing a death notice on their credit reports.
Notifying Credit Bureaus of a Loved One’s Death
When someone close passes away, their credit reports aren’t naturally going to be your top priority. But if you’re handling their estate, it’s important to understand how to notify the credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — of their passing to minimize the risk of identity theft.
It’s wise to notify at least one of the credit agencies as soon as you can to inform them of the death. When you alert one of the credit bureaus, they will notify the other two.
Here are the necessary steps to update the passing of your loved one with the credit bureaus:
1. Request a Designation of Deceased
Call one of the credit bureaus and request that they add the designation “Deceased. Do Not Issue Credit” to the report. This death notice makes it difficult for would-be thieves to apply for credit using the deceased person’s identity. When the creditor pulls the credit report they’ll see the notice that the report belongs to someone who has passed away.
When you call the credit bureau, they will want some documents so make sure you understand what records you need to gather and send.
The agency you call will notify the other two so you do not need to call the other bureaus.
2. Send A Written Follow-Up Using Certified Mail
Follow up with written correspondence to each credit agency using certified mail. Make sure you include the documents the credit bureau requests during your phone call, which should include the following information about the deceased:
- Last Address
- Social Security number
- Date of Birth
- Date of Death
- Copy of Death Certificate
If you want a copy of the credit report, include your name and a copy of government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or state ID.
If you are the spouse of the deceased you’ll want to also send your name, mailing address and a copy of your driver’s license or other legal identification.
Likewise, estate executors or anyone other than a spouse should include the requestor’s identification. It’s also important to submit documents supporting their Power of Attorney or a copy of the will or executor agreement.
Once the creditors are notified of your loved one’s death, they will seal their credit reports and add a death notice to them.
3. Request Copies of the Credit Reports
Request a copy of the deceased’s credit reports so you can tie up loose financial ends. You will need to see all three credit reports because they will not be identical. That’s because creditors and lenders don’t always report to all three bureaus; some information will be on some reports, but not on others.
Here is the contact information for the big three credit bureaus:
P.O. Box 105139
Atlanta, GA 30348-5139
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Why Is It Important to Notify Credit Bureaus of Someone’s Death?
It’s important to inform the credit bureaus of someone’s death because it helps to protect against identity theft.
The account information found on the deceased’s credit reports can also be very helpful in tying up loose financial ends.
Review the credit reports to gather a list of open credit accounts. You can use the contact information for each creditor as it appears on the credit report. Let them know the credit accounts need to be closed, even if the account balance is not at zero.
Creditors may ask you to supply legal documents including a copy of the death certificate.
The Bottom Line
The Social Security Administration will eventually notify the credit bureaus when someone passes away. You can speed up the process by notifying the credit bureaus yourself, however.
Send in the required documentation to have a death notice added to their credit reports. The death notice will appear anytime a creditor pulls the credit report, making it difficult for scammers to open accounts in the name of the deceased.