Here's The Nightmare That Could Ensue If Your Credit Bureau Says You're Dead

A 46-year-old Missouri woman has allegedly been trying to convince her bank that she’s alive for more than a year, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The bank initially declared Kimberly Haman dead for reasons unknown and the credit reporting agency Equifax then reported that false information, she claims. A year later, the mistake still is not fixed, she says.

Haman, a financial services supervisor, has allegedly been denied a credit card and prevented from refinancing her mortgage because credit reports list her as deceased, the Post-Dispatch reports. Haman says she has contacted the bank and credit reporting bureau several times to get the mistake fixed to no avail.

Now, she “is at a complete loss as to what else she can do,” according to the lawsuit. Haman is baffled as to what could have led to the alleged error in the first place.

But these mistakes can and do happen. In 2012, an investigation by The Columbus Dispatch revealed how difficult it is to get obvious mistakes corrected on credit reports.

Equifax, the credit reporting agency that Haman is dealing with, has been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2000 for not providing phone help to consumers, according to The Dispatch.

The Dispatch analysed about 30,000 consumer complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general in 24 states and found that almost 200 people told the FTC their credit report listed them as dead.

And more than half of the people who filed complaints with the FTC said they couldn’t convince the credit reporting agencies to fix the mistakes.

Equifax finally took the error off Haman’s credit report after a reporter asked about the lawsuit, a spokeswoman told the Post-Dispatch. But Haman still needs to regain her good credit rating.

We left a message with her bank, Heartland Bank of St. Louis, and will update this post if we hear back.

The Post-Dispatch points out that a Federal Trade Commission study of credit reporting agencies found that 26% of the 1,001 consumers surveyed found at least one “potentially material” mistake on a credit report.

Sylvia Goldsmith, Haman’s lawyer, told the Post-Dispatch that these credit bureaus take a “cavalier attitude” toward their responsibilities and that Haman’s case is “shining the light” on deficiencies in how credit reporting agencies investigate disputed information.

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