After losing a loved one, there are many important steps to take to ensure you’re protecting your loved one’s affairs. This often gets pushed aside when there are so many other things on your plate, but it’s essential to have a plan moving forward to handle everything.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What You’ll Need to Report a Death to Experian
- Steps for Notifying Experian of a Death
- What Happens After You Notify Experian of a Death?
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for criminals to take advantage of the credit of deceased individuals. They often open new accounts in your loved one’s name, ruining their credit in the process.
Reporting a death to credit bureaus is a must. The sooner you can report the death, the less risk your loved one’s financial affairs will face. In this guide, we’ll share how to report a death to Experian step-by-step.
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.
What You’ll Need to Report a Death to Experian
Reporting a death to Experian is an easy process. The only physical document you’ll need is your loved one’s death certificate. If you’re wondering how to get a death certificate, you can do this through your loved one’s funeral home and also your county records office.
Aside from the death certificate, you’ll also need the following information about your loved one:
- Their name
- Most recent address
- Social security number
- Date of death
It’s also a good idea to have your own contact information included in case they need to follow up with you. There are a lot of reasons you need a death certificate, so have a few copies ready just in case.
Who can report the death?
You need to be close to the deceased to report the death to a credit bureau. You can be a personal representative of the state or a surviving spouse. The next-of-kin is usually entitled to do this, but you can check with an estate attorney if you’re unsure.
An estate attorney can also handle this process on your behalf. If you’re working with an attorney to secure your loved one’s financial affairs, they can guide you through the next steps.
Steps for Notifying Experian of a Death
Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus, and they make it very simple to notify their organization of a loved one’s death. The steps to follow for Experian are simple.
1. Prepare your documents
First, you’ll need to prepare your documents to make sure you have everything you need. Experian requires you to have a copy of the death certificate. If you’re not the spouse of the deceased, you’ll also need a way to prove that you’re the executor of an estate. For spouses, you can submit a copy of your marriage certificate.
They request a copy of a legal document with a court seal indicating you’re the executor. You need to show that you have the legal authority to update this individual’s credit account. Again, an estate attorney can assist you with this process if you’re unsure about your status as executor.
2. Write a notification of death
You’ll need to send Experian what’s known as a notification of death. This is a formal, written request, but it doesn’t need to be anything complicated. Here’s a sample letter you can use for Experian:
Request for ‘Deceased. Do Not Issue Credit.” Notation
Please place a notion for “Deceased. Do Not Issue Credit.” on the account of:
[Date of birth]
[Date of death]
[Social security number]
My current contact information is listed below:
I am the deceased’s [spouse/executor]. Attached is a copy of [my marriage certificate/court-appointed executor notice].
Please send a copy of the deceased’s latest credit report at my address noted above.
[Signature and date]
Save a copy of this letter for your own records.
3. Send your request
Once you’ve created your notification, it’s time to submit it to Experian. This can easily be done by mail or online. To submit your notice by mail, mail your documents and written notice of death to:
P.O. Box 9701
Allen, TX 75013
You can also submit your documents and your notice online securely through their online portal.
4. Review your loved one’s credit report
Once your notice has been sent, it’s time to wait. It’s very possible that your loved one’s account with Experian has already been updated as deceased. Experian periodically gets notices from the Social Security Administration for those who have been deceased. In addition, they might have already received notice from one of your loved one’s creditors.
Experian will mail you a copy of your loved one’s credit report, and it’s important to review this for updated information. Not only should you ensure there’s a notice of “deceased” on the record, but you should also review recent accounts to make sure they’ve also been updated.
Because these accounts can stay on their credit report for seven years, hold onto this document for a few years. It’s important to have a copy for your records.
What Happens After You Notify Experian of a Death?
When you notify Experian of a death, they update your loved one’s credit report to show the phrase “Deceased. Do Not Issue Credit.” This is important because it’s what’s sent anytime the credit report is requested.
That means if someone tries to open an account in your loved one’s name, the lender will see that this individual is deceased and report it as a fraud. This is a way to protect against identity theft.
Experian also removes this individual’s name from any future preapproved offer mailing lists. This reduces their risk of fraud in the future since fewer people and lenders have access to their information.
Protecting Your Loved One’s Credit
While taking action to protect your loved one’s credit might sound complicated, it’s just one of the many executor duties. Experian makes it simple to report your loved one’s death, ensuring your loved one’s finances remain safe and secure.
Nobody wants to think about someone targeting their deceased loved one for fraud or identity theft. Unfortunately, this is very much a reality. Luckily, it’s easy to take a few simple steps above to keep your loved one’s financial estate protected.
If you're looking for more help with settling an estate after a death, read our estate planning checklist and the best estate planning books.
- “Fraudsters’ Latest Target: Dead People.” Pyments: Fraud Prevention. 25 April 2019. Pyments.com.
- White, Jennifer. “Reporting Death of a Relative.” Experian. 3 December 2018. Experian.com.