Credit Reports and Death

Credit Reports and Death

Some columns are less enjoyable than others to write. My condolences to the two friends who have need for this information in the last month.

Each individual has an account with each of the credit bureaus. This wonderful financial tool is yours alone! With a good credit score, you can get better loan rates, insurance rates, and other benefits. When someone dies and the credit bureaus are told of the death, the account is closed and the score goes to zero. This is to prevent scoundrels from using the account information for their benefit. It also may help you as a survivor from being harassed by someone wanting to part you from your money.

As a survivor, in addition to all the emotions and details you are dealing with, it is a good idea to get a copy of the deceased‘s credit report from each of the three bureaus so you can get a clearer picture of his or her finances and learn if you are responsible for anything, such as being a co-signer on a credit card. The request for a copy can be made by a spouse or executor.

Send a letter with the following information about the deceased: legal name, Social Security number, date of birth and of death, last known address, a copy of the death certificate or letters testamentary. Include your full name, your address, and if not a spouse, the court document showing your executor status.

After that, you can request the credit bureaus close the account and mark it “Deceased. Do Not Issue Credit”. The Social Security Administration should forward this request, but I’d advise making sure it happens. Addresses for the three credit bureaus are easy to find online but call me if you have troubles.


Jean O’Neil, TRIAD committee member