Taking a look at Charles Williams and his large frame, you know he is very much alive.
But to the credit reporting agencies, he is dead. Williams discovered the issue when he moved his family from overseas to Kent. He was able to get an apartment but nothing else.
His apartment is sparse, “So this is my living room, and as you can see, there’s no furniture because I can’t get credit to get the furniture,” Williams explains.
“I’ve gone to the bank. I tried to open an account. They said I was dead. You know, I tried to get credit. They said I was dead. What am I to do?”
Williams issue isn’t a lack of money. He’s a retiree, a veteran who gets disability and Social Security every month.
So if Uncle Sam knows he’s alive why don’t the creditors?
He’s dead tired of fighting, “So you know I can feed my family. I can live in an apartment. But as a veteran, you know, I can’t get furniture, and I can’t get them off the floor until I can get credit or save enough money to buy it, straighten it out.”
Williams called the three credit reporting agencies – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
All admitted he was marked as dead. And while it wasn’t his mistake, it was his problem to solve.
“No they just told me, they don’t give out any information unless you write them and prove that you’re not,” the frustrated father said.
Credit reporting issues aren’t uncommon. A recent study by the Federal Trade Commission found one in five people had a credit error corrected by a reporting agency. Twenty percent of those saw a subsequent increase in their credit score.
Becky House from with American Financial Solutions says these cases are tough on families, “People literally cry over the situation because it makes everything in your life so much harder to do.”
House says it’s important to check your credit report every year and catch the issues early.
Then start the dispute process right away.
“So they have 30 days to look everything over and come back and give you a decision. They can potentially have, extend that time if they say need to investigate it further but they can only extend it by 30 days. So really, the outside time is 60 days,” House said.
As for Charles, we contacted Experian, Equifax and TransUnion about his issue.
Citing privacy issues they wouldn’t give us any information.
But when I caught up with Charles a few weeks later he got new furniture and a great pickup truck.
Charles was ecstatic, “It’s good to be alive huh? Came back to life and when I woke up I got a truck.”
To get your free annual credit report go to annualcreditreport.com
Click here to file a dispute with Experian
Click here to file a dispute with Equifax
Click here to file a dispute with Transunion