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Banking Law

Woman sues in effort to prove she is alive

Posted Feb 11, 2014 8:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A St. Louis-area woman has sued her bank and the credit-reporting-agency Equifax in an effort to correct reports that she is dead.

Kimberly Haman says she has been turned down for a credit card and twice denied refinancing on her mortgage because of her status as deceased, report the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

Haman claims the problem apparently originated with Heartland Bank, which reported her death to Equifax. She says she has repeatedly asked Heartland and Equifax to fix the error, but the problem wasn’t resolved. “At this point, plaintiff is at a complete loss as to what else she can do,” the suit (PDF) says.

The suit claims a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which allows recovery of compensatory and punitive damages, lawsuit costs and statutory penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.

A Heartland Bank spokesman told the Law Blog that it immediately investigated and contacted the credit reporting agencies after Haman reported the error, “but, unknown to Heartland Bank, the communication to the credit reporting agency did not resolve the reporting error.” The bank says it “has taken additional steps to correct this issue.”

Equifax told the Law Blog it “reports consumer account information as provided” by banks, retailers and other furnishers, and “we do not create data on consumers.” A spokesperson told the Post-Dispatch that Equifax blocked the Heartland account information from appearing on Haman’s credit report after a reporter’s inquiry.

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