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Updated: 3 May 2022

'Equifax says I'm dead'

Which? explains what to do if there's a mistake on your credit file

Do you have an issue you need to put right? Which? is here to help get your consumer problems sorted. 

Dear Which?,

I recently tried to open a new account with Investec, but ran into the most unexpected of problems.

I was told that according to Equifax, the credit reference agency it used, I am registered as deceased. 

I am very much  alive – how on earth can this be possible? 

Janet Grigor, Merseyside

Put to rights

Simon Dicey, Which? Money Helpline adviser, says:

This is a bizarre story, but one that reflects wider problems. Credit reference agencies – in this case Equifax – puta note on people’s files when they die, to prevent fraudsters using their details to apply for financial products. 

That’s sensible, but in your case has caused real problems. Whatever went wrong, it’s the credit reference agency’s job to sort it out. 

Under the Data Protection Act 2018 you have the right to ask, either verbally or in writing, for inaccurate personal data about you to be corrected. 

The firm has 28 days to respond to your request, although it can refuse if it thinks the request is unfounded or excessive.

You formally complained to Equifax, and it emerged that the ‘deceased flag’ attached to your entry related to your late mother, who shared the same first and last name as you. 

Frustratingly, Equifax told you that because of system ‘limitations’ it couldn’t remove the flag, nor could it list records by date of birth. Equifax instead said that it could add a note to your file explaining to lenders what had happened. It also offered you £500 as compensation. 

You told us you were still considering whether to take this, as you felt Equifax wasn’t fixing the root cause of the problem. 

There are two other major credit reference agencies, Experian and TransUnion, and it’s worth checking that their records are correct. There’s no need to pay to see your credit report. 

Checking your credit report regularly is a good habit to get into. Doing so should mean that you spot any incorrect information that might affect your ability to access financial products in future. 

Unfortunately, as our recent investigation into credit report errors found, mistakes on credit reports can take months or even years to be resolved, leaving people in financial limbo.

Need to know

  • There are three credit agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion
  • You have the legal right to ask for incorrect personal information held about you to be corrected
  • Don't pay to check your credit report - you can do it for free

Get in touch. If you've got a consumer rights problem you need put right email us at yourstory@which.co.uk. 

Please be aware that we cannot help with, or respond to, every email that we receive. The inbox is monitored periodically during office hours, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. 

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