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Bank declares living customer dead

For the past 3 years, Bank of America has been telling credit agencies that Arthur Livingston is dead. The trouble is, he's not.

By Giselle Smith Feb 14, 2012 1:46PM

In October, South Carolina resident Arthur Livingston was surprised to learn that his bank thought he was deceased -- and had been since May 2009. But three months later, despite having contacted Bank of America multiple times, he's more than a little frustrated.

It might be funny -- as Livingston's friends originally thought -- were it not for the fact that the error has put his life in limbo.

Because of the reporting error, Livingston and his wife can't get the loan they need to start building their family's new home. And despite the fact that he has two checking accounts, a savings account and two college savings accounts for his children at Bank of America, as well as a credit card -- which he pays off every month -- Livingston isn't benefiting from these good-credit deeds.

The problem seems to have originated in May 2009, when the Prosperity, S.C., resident sold his prior home. At that time, the bank began reporting him as deceased to the three major credit reporting agencies, according to ABC News. Now, Livingston's credit report reads "file not scored because subject is deceased." Post continues below.

"I went to Bank of America, I brought this to their attention, and we're working on 100 days now with no resolution," Livingston told WIS-TV. Initially, the bank told him it would take 30 days to resolve, but despite the media attention, Livingston is still not officially "living."

Bank errors are not uncommon

Declaring an undead customer deceased is just one of several bank errors wreaking havoc on the lives of ordinary people, according to New York Magazine. The publication reports that both Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have started foreclosure proceedings on more than one customer who did not default on their loans.

One possible explanation for the error is that the big bank could have another customer with the same name and may have mixed up their accounts, Victor Searcy, the director of fraud operations for IDentity Theft 911, told ABC News.

"Regardless of the situation, it shouldn't take 100 days to investigate and clear," Searcy said. "He can obviously present identification and appear in person to provide 'proof of life.'"

Credit-scoring expert Tom Quinn of explained to ABC News that most credit bureaus can't generate a score for customers once a bank reports them as deceased.

"Just another good reason why consumers should periodically check their credit report for accuracy and follow the disputing-inaccurate-information process if they find this kind of inaccurate information on the file," he said.

Resolution should come soon

After WIS-TV aired a segment on Livingston's plight, the bank said it would contact him directly and would get things straightened out as quickly as possible, which won't be too soon for Livingston. ABC News reported:

"It's inexcusable. She's making it sound like now it can be a quick fix. It should have been a quick fix three and half months ago," he said. "I've really reached my limit."

Livingston has been a Bank of America customer for 14 years, but told ABC News that he doesn't intend to keep his accounts at the bank in the future.


As long as the bank delays resolving this issue, however, it has Livingston as a customer.

More on MSN Money:
Feb 14, 2012 3:45PM

Takes them 10 secs to screw up the man's Life...takes over 3 months and counting to make it right???

F- these guys.

and this gem: 

 ""Just another good reason why consumers should periodically check their credit report for accuracy and follow the disputing-inaccurate​-information process if they find this kind of inaccurate information on the file," he said""

And wtf good does it do, When ya cant get it fix anyway?


...Real helpful information there slick.

Feb 14, 2012 4:21PM
Feb 14, 2012 3:47PM
He should sue the bank for slander/libel. Error or not, no one, not even a bank, should be able to wrongly ruin a person's character (financial or otherwise).
Feb 14, 2012 3:47PM

Next time you have a credit card payment, send them a note stating since the bank considers you deceased you will not be making payments anymore.

Open new accounts with another bank (explain the situation so they know what to expect on the credit report) then close out all the BoA accounts.

Feb 14, 2012 5:13PM
Hey pal, stop paying your credit card bill,, and see how fast you come back to life......
Feb 14, 2012 3:44PM
This is Bank of America! Is anyone surprised? Why is anyone still banking with them?
Feb 14, 2012 3:56PM
"One possible explanation for the error is that the big bank could have another customer with the same name and may have mixed up their accounts"
REALLY!?! Do the banks not check the SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER associated with every account? Not only has someone been "sleeping at the wheel" --- they've been in a freaking coma!
Feb 14, 2012 3:54PM
I swear to God, Bank of America has to be the worst run company in the world. Or at the very least, the company with the worst customer service in the world. Why anyone still does business with them is a mystery to me.
Feb 14, 2012 3:54PM
Thank Goodness I took my money out of Bank of America!  It is the WORST Bank in the World!
Feb 14, 2012 5:11PM
And, why hasn't this man filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit yet against B of A? That seems to be the only way anyone can get their attention. I'll guarantee that within 24 hours of the lawsuit being filed, "magically" the problem will be resolved. I hope, however, that he persists in that lawsuit against B of A; no jury in the country would find for them and against him in any courtroom.
Feb 14, 2012 4:25PM
I hate the credit score companies.  All of them carry 2 collection agency reports on me for unpaid hospital bills.  This is becaiuse even though I told them to send all bills to VA fee basis, they sent them to Medicare which only pays 80% whereas VA pays 100% of the schedule they follow.  I have sent leters to all agencies concerned that all the hospitals have to do is contact VA Salen VA and they will be paid then they have to reimburse Medicare.  They refuse.  The credit agencies say they are right and I am wrong.  Screw them.  I am 68 years old, own outright my home, 2 cars, 1 truck, 1 motorcycle and 1 boat, motor and trailer.  I have $100,000 inloans available to me for my house and $80,000 from my credit cards if I want it.  They can all take a flying leap for all I care about them.  I wouldn't p*** on their graves because I don't like to stand in lines.
Feb 14, 2012 5:15PM
I left BofA years ago and was amazed how much better my financial situation became
with a good credit union.

Feb 14, 2012 3:50PM
B of A is the most screwed up bank I have ever dealt with. In the mid-seventies, I tried to open a checking account with $165.00 in CASH. They wouldn't open it, because I only had one piece of ID with a picture on it. I was 20, and no one that I knew had 2 pieces of picture ID....
Feb 14, 2012 5:23PM
Upon reading the headline, and before reading the full article, I KNEW  the bank was Bank of America!
This bank needs to be closed, its assets liquidated, and the people running it barred from ever again dealing with finances.
They need to be GONE!

Feb 14, 2012 3:55PM
Usually banks require death certificates to prove that these individuals are deceased.  This bank is a piece of work.  Make it right already!
Feb 14, 2012 4:21PM
I boycotted B of A 20+ years ago, after they had screwed me for the last time! I've also boycotted Chase, Key and though I once considered changing banks, I decided to stay with my local Savings and Loan. they treat me great and I hve never had a problem with them. I hope people will boycott B of A and Chase- and all the other big banks as well! We need to get back to a world where we are treated with dignity and respect by the institutions we trust with our money.
Feb 14, 2012 3:56PM
Unfortunately, this is indicative of the practices at many banks, not just BoA.  They just happen to be the poster child because their lack of customer service is so blatantly shoved down our throats.  Until enough people decide they will no longer accept poor service in exchange for a tenth of a point lower interest rate, BoA and every other company like them will thrive.  This goes for all industries out there too.  I suspect we haven't reached the lowest point of where our products and services will reach before we decide enough is enough...sadly.
Feb 14, 2012 3:42PM
I guess he is lucky they dont send a hit man to take him out ........oh wait a minute they dont need to they already said he was dead......
Feb 14, 2012 5:13PM
This is why everyone hates Bank of Un-America so much. It isn't the foreclosures, all banks do that. You don't pay the notes, you get foreclosed. It is because they are STUPID!!!!! The plight of this customer is not isolated. They have dealt with "dead" people before, refusing payments because the customers were "dead", when they were standing right in front of them!. They have also foreclosed on the WRONG properties and removed American flags from in front of some branches. No wonder they needed a bailout. They should be SHUT DOWN!!!!
Feb 14, 2012 5:34PM
I don't think that a Bank should ever have the power to tell the credit reporting companies that a person is DEAD with out proof.  A bank can say your dead and you can not fix it by talking to the credit reporting company yourself  wow.   This also a bank that posted 2 billion dollar profit.......   They should have to pay for all the trouble they are causing this family.......
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