Whether it was sudden or expected, the death of a loved one is always difficult. In addition to planning or attending a funeral, you might have to sort through practical issues, like reporting their death to a credit bureau such as Equifax.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Do You Need Before You Report a Death to Equifax?
- Steps for Reporting a Death to Equifax
- What Happens After You Report a Death to Equifax?
It’s important to let one of the three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion—know that your loved one has passed away. Informing any one of these bureaus updates your loved one’s credit profile with a “deceased” notice that transfers to the other two.
In this article, we’ll be looking at how to report your loved one’s death to the credit bureau, Equifax. Once you do so, you don’t have to report the death to the other two bureaus.
Figuring out the proper reporting procedure can be overwhelming and confusing. Below, we list some steps to help you notify Equifax of your loved one’s passing.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, it's tough to handle both the emotional and technical aspects of their unfinished business without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
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What Do You Need Before You Report a Death to Equifax?
First, let’s look at what you’ll need to do before you report a death to a credit bureau. Make sure you’ve checked off each of the items on the list below.
Check that you’re the executor of the estate or an appointed administrator
If the deceased left behind a will, they will have named an executor. This is the person who handles said executor duties such as speaking to credit bureaus, closing bank accounts, and addressing any outstanding debts via the estate.
If the deceased didn’t have a will, the court may have appointed you (or someone else) an administrator or personal representative. This role carries the same responsibilities.
In all these cases, you’ll need to provide your identification.
Obtain proof of your authorization
On top of being the legal executor, you’ll need documentation proving that you are the person able to conduct these activities. This usually includes the court order naming you as the executor, but it may involve other documents showing that you’re an executor of the estate.
In the case of executing a will, you can ask the court for what’s called Letters Testamentary. If you are acting without a will but as the administrator of the deceased’s estate, probate court can provide you with a Letter of Administration.
As the person’s surviving spouse, you can report their death to TransUnion without evidence of your authorization.
Obtain a copy of the death certificate
To place a “deceased” notice on your loved one’s account, you have to show the credit bureau that the person is, in fact, deceased. You can do this by sending Equifax a copy of the death certificate.
Gather the following information about your loved one
The credit bureau will need the following information about the deceased:
- Their legal name
- Social security number
- Date of birth
- Date of death
Equifax also needs the following information about you as the executor:
- Legal name
- Address for sending final confirmation
- Proof that you’re the executor or spouse, as described above
- Proof of identification, such as a copy of your driver’s license or government-issued ID
Steps for Reporting a Death to Equifax
After collecting all the necessary documentation, you will still need to speak to Equifax. Here are some steps to follow:
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1. Contact the credit bureau
Before you begin the process, it’s still a good idea to contact the bureau to make sure you understand everything you need to do. The documents required by Equifax for example may vary based on your relationship to the deceased and other factors.
You can contact Equifax’s customer service line at 888-548-7878.
2. Gather the necessary paperwork
As mentioned above, you’ll need a copy of the death certificate, as well as the appropriate document declaring you as the estate administrator (unless you’re the person’s spouse).
There are other reasons you may need the death certificate, so make sure you send a copy rather than the original.
You’ll also need to provide basic information about the deceased, including their full name and Social Security number, as well as information about yourself. You’ll also need to provide your address so that Equifax can send you a final confirmation by mail.
3. Make copies
Consider making copies of any documents you send or forms you fill out. Copy them after you’ve filled them out, but before you’ve signed and dated them.
This way, you won’t have to fill out the forms or make copies of the documents again should you need additional copies. You may also make additional copies after you’ve signed and dated the documents. It is also good to keep copies of these filled-out forms for any estate records.
4. Write a letter and put everything together to send
Put together the required documents, including a copy of the death certificate, as well as a letter containing the necessary information about the deceased and yourself.
Clearly list the following about the deceased:
- Legal name
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Date of death
...as well as your name, a copy of your identification, appropriate document listing you as executor, and the mailing address at which you’d like to receive the final confirmation.
5. Request a credit report
At the same time that you notify Equifax about the death, you can also request your loved one’s credit reports. These reports are helpful in determining what you need to do next to manage the person’s finances.
To request a credit report when you notify Equifax about the death, attach an additional letter to your documents stating that you’d like that information. In that letter, include the same information as listed above. You’ll also want to include some new bits such as your deceased loved one’s last known address.
6. Consider sending by Certified Mail
Although it’s not required, you might want to consider sending your letter and documents by Certified Mail. You’re mailing sensitive information, including your identification and your loved one’s social security number.
Certified Mail with the USPS can grant you additional peace of mind because it notifies you about the status of your mailed items.
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7. Mail your items to Equifax
Finally, you will want to send this package to the following address:
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 105139
Atlanta, GA 30348-5139
What Happens After You Report a Death to Equifax?
After you mail in the required information, you’ll receive a final confirmation letter from Equifax. The letter will state that your loved one’s credit report has been updated with a “deceased” notice. This notice transfers to all three credit bureaus.
The deceased notice on your loved one’s credit profile means no one can take out credit using your loved one’s information. If someone attempts to use your loved one’s credit profile to apply for credit, the bureaus will block and flag the attempt.
Requesting credit reports
You can request your loved one’s credit reports by following step six listed above, or by mailing a request to all three agencies at the addresses below:
- Equifax: P.O. Box 105139, Atlanta, GA 30348-5139
- Experian: P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013
- TransUnion: P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
Providing a Death Notification to Equifax
Finances and credit reports likely aren’t at the top of your mind when a loved one passes away. But it’s important to take on these tasks when you’re ready, so that additional issues don’t arise. Leaving credit accounts open can lead to more problems down the line, especially if too much time elapses. You can also lose said essential paperwork for these credit accounts as well. If you're ready to cancel an Equifax account, find out how here.
We hope the steps outlined above have helped make the process of reporting your loved one’s death easier. That way, you can focus on more meaningful memories.
- “Credit steps to take after a relative's death.” Equifax, www.equifax.com/personal/education/credit/report/credit-steps-after-death/
- “After a relative's death, do I need to contact each nationwide credit bureau?” Equifax, www.equifax.com/personal/help/relative-death-contact-credit-bureaus/
- “How do I obtain a credit report for a deceased person?” Equifax, www.equifax.com/personal/help/credit-report-deceased-person/
- “Customer care.” Equifax, www.equifax.com/personal/contact-us/
- “What is Certified Mail?” USPS, 09 November 2018, faq.usps.com/s/article/What-is-Certified-Mail