They always say you should check your credit report regularly for errors. They never say what you are supposed to do when you spot an error and nobody believes you. A St. Louis woman can't even convince her bank that she's alive.
Apparently, it's not easy to refinance your mortgage from beyond the grave...
Kimberly Haman, a financial services supervisor (!), is suing Heartland Bank, of St. Louis, and Equifax because they currently report her as dead when she is not. The bank declared her dead a year ago and Equifax passed it along.
Are these people getting their information from Twitter? Haman has twice been denied on applications to refinance her mortgage and has been denied a credit card because she is allegedly deceased. Now she's suing the bank and the credit reporting agency because she doesn't know what else to do. Sending letters to the bank protesting her demise did not work.
Credit reporting agencies have become the gatekeepers of "reputation" in this world. Woody Allen couldn't get financing for a movie if Dylan Farrow could somehow wreck his credit score. I've written before that people are nicer to recovering drug addicts than they are to people with bad credit.
But note how Equifax takes no responsibility for its role in determining the financial options for millions. Here's their statement about the Haman case to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog:
An Equifax spokesperson said: "Equifax reports consumer account information as provided by its furnishers, which are banks, retailers, credit card companies, etc. We do not create data on consumers. Because of ongoing litigation, we are unable to comment further."
Are you kidding me with this? We don't "create" a person's credit history, we just pass along the rumors we hear from corporations without giving consumers a chance to protest. In case you ever wondered what a game of telephone would look like if you were reliant on accurate information, just try getting something removed from your credit report. Debt kills, and your credit report is the murder weapon.
If you can figure out who screwed up your credit report — and you are lucky enough that the answer is not "you" — your only recourse is to go directly to whoever made the wrong report in the first place. That's what Haman tried to do, but I think a lot of people will find that "banks, retailers, credit card companies, etc." are piss-poor about admitting their own mistakes.
And so you're probably going to need a lawyer. I guess it takes money to make banks recognize that you should be able to borrow money.
Debt: The Silent Killer [Above the Law]