Obtaining the credit report for a decedent is important to protect their assets before any criminals target them for identity theft and credit card fraud, advises credit.com in the article “Dealing with a Credit Report for the Deceased.” Speed is of the essence for this estate task.
In most cases, the only person who is the subject of the credit report should have access to it. However, there are times when you need to pull someone else’s report, such as when a loved one dies. Other instances are when an employer is checking on a potential employee’s credit, or when a landlord wants to know more about a tenant.
To obtain a living person’s credit report, you must have permission. Permission can be granted on a rental or job application. You’ll also need their Social Security number, name and date of birth.
For someone who has passed, it is recommended that you notify the three credit bureaus as soon as possible after a death to make sure the account is marked as “deceased,” so no one can open a credit card account in the person’s name.
If you are the executor and you need to obtain a credit report of a person who has passed, here’s what you will need to do to protect their legacy and obtain their credit report. First, you’ll need certain documents:
- Proof that you have been named executor of the estate
- Testamentary letters from the probate court
- An official copy of the death certificate
You should get several copies of each of these documents, since you will also need them for other aspects of the estate.
Before you can obtain the credit report, the will needs to be filed with the probate court. Your estate planning attorney can do this for you, as part of settling the estate. Once all the documents are in order, you’ll need to report the death and contact the three bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You’ll also want a cover letter explaining that the person has passed and that you need the reports to settle the estate.
The letter should include the decedent’s name, their last known address and their Social Security number. There may be a fee, depending on the company’s policies.
Review the report thoroughly and check for any inaccuracies. Make note of any open accounts that need to be paid with the estate or notified of the death. Debts are not all cleared when a person dies, so you’ll want to know what needs to be taken care of. Look for anything suspicious. It could be a sign of theft or fraud.
The last step is to notify the credit bureaus, outstanding creditors and the Social Security Administration of the person’s death. Once proper notification has taken place, the bureaus will mark the credit record as being deceased. No further credit will be extended in the person’s name and no additional accounts can be opened.
Reference: credit.com (Aug. 27, 2019) “Dealing with a Credit Report for the Deceased.”
Suggested Key Terms: Decedent, Estate, Executor, Credit Report, Credit Bureau, Identify Theft