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Although most of us who check our credit reports are doing it to make sure credit bureaus are correctly reporting our debts and payment records, one Credit.com reader, Denise, says she’s having trouble convincing a credit bureau she’s alive:

Experian shows that I’m deceased because when I closed my Kohl’s charge card, the rep. accidentally marked me deceased instead of customer closed account. After I got that straightened out, I sent a notarized letter with a copy of my birth certificate to Experian stating that I am alive and Kohl’s made an error when I closed my account.This was months ago and I am still marked deceased. What can or should I do?

We got in touch with Experian, and they’ve been trying to reach Denise. In the meantime, Kristine Snyder, public relations manager for Experian Consumer Information Services, says one of the important questions to answer first is whether Denise found out she had an error on her credit report from a lender or from pulling her own credit report.

Every personal credit report a consumer obtains has instructions for how to dispute a mistake with a mailing address and other personal information that Denise can use to dispute the deceased indicator that is appearing on her Kohl’s account.

If a lender indicates tells you there is a problem on your credit reports, it’s always important to get a personal copy of your report. If you don’t, you won’t have instructions for filing a dispute, and you may not even have current data. In addition, it’s possible that you may send your dispute to the wrong address. (Here’s how to get a copy of your credit report for free every year.)

Snyder said consumers should allow 30 days for the dispute process to be completed, although she said they are typically completed more quickly than that. “Without knowing what the consumer actually did, it’s hard to say what happened, but we handle disputes like this one quickly and effectively, so I definitely want to be sure we are able to assist this consumer,” she said.

In general, if fixing a mistake is taking longer than 30 days, it’s smart to follow up with the credit bureau, and to keep copies of all correspondence. Particularly if you are sending documents, as Denise did, it’s a good idea to send it via certified mail (which requires a signature for delivery), with a return receipt. That way, in the event your problems aren’t quickly resolved, you have proof that the documents were received. It’s also helpful to keep a log of whom you spoke with and what was said. Both you and the credit bureau have good reason to want to make sure the information in your file is correct; credit scores are only as good as the data behind them. (And if you’re concerned about your credit scores, you can check them for free on Credit.com, where you will also get an overview of how the information on your credit reports is affecting your scores.)

Another approach would be to contact Kohl’s and ask them to correct the information. Again, it’s important to keep good records and to use certified mail.

A third option, particularly if a mistake persists despite a consumer’s best efforts to get it corrected, would be to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or even to consult a consumer law attorney for advice.

More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:

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  • heavyw8t

    If these bureaus were not fortified like the radar tracking at NORAD, you could actually go there and show them you are alive and vertical. However, nobody seems to know where they actually are beyond a PO Box and an 800 number, and just like Oz, nobody gets in to see the wizard. Nobody.

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