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What happens to credit files after a person dies?

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2023 | Probate Litigation |

When a Maryland resident passes away, the person appointed to administer their estate contacts the three main credit reporting agencies. This is done to notify the agencies about the death and obtain a copy of the decedent’s Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit reports. Before the credit reporting agencies place a deceased indicator on the decedent’s credit records, they will ask to see a copy of the death certificate and a document showing that the individual making the notification is legally authorized to act on behalf of the estate.

Identity theft

Notifying the credit bureaus and the decedent’s creditors are important probate administration tasks because it thwarts criminals who attempt to steal the identities of the recently deceased, which is quite common. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion place deceased indicators on the credit reports of the recently deceased, but they do not close them. This is also done to prevent identity theft. The credit reports of deceased individuals are kept open for seven years.

Notifying creditors

Personal representatives or executors contact all three credit reporting agencies because they need all three of the decedent’s credit reports. This will give them information about all of the decedent’s creditors. Contacting all of the agencies is necessary because not all creditors report to all of the credit bureaus. When creditors are notified about a recent death, they report the information to the credit agencies. This will place a deceased indicator each of the accounts on the credit report.

Time is of the essence

There is a lot to do in the days after an individual dies, but contacting their creditors and the three credit reporting agencies is a task that should not be overlooked or put off. Criminals often choose the recently deceased as targets for identity theft, which a timely notification should prevent.