A Murfreesboro man says it's not easy being dead.
Two weeks ago, James Scott got a letter from the Veteran's Administration; actually it was addressed to the estate of James Scott.
"I knew it wasn't going to be good when I opened it," says Scott.
The letter explained the burial benefits his grieving family is entitled to.
Then he found out a lot of other people thought he was dead: his bank froze his accounts and his credit cards. His monthly veterans benefits were cut off.
"It's an onion and every time I peel it, it just keeps peeling," Scott says.
Scott is a 48-year-old Army veteran in relatively good health. From what he's been able to find out, it appears the VA mixed him up with another James Scott of Tennessee who recently died. With a computer keystroke, the VA listed him dead as of March 5.
"Social Security told me that any government agency tied to them, such as the IRS, all of them, have been notified that I'm dead. It's so strange, talking about this, like I'm in the past tense," Scott says.
You might be surprised to find out that this happens pretty often. In fact, a report from the Office of the Inspector General for Social Security says that nationwide "there are about 1,000 cases each month" where someone is declared dead when they're not.
The Inspector General's office is concerned because of the financial hardships the wrongly-declared dead face. Plus, those people are at risk for identity theft. That's because your Social Security number becomes public when you're declared dead.
Scott signed up for identity theft protection, but was denied, since his credit cards had been canceled.
"It was funny the first couple of days. Humor is getting me through it. But by the time I fix this, it will probably drive me to my grave," Scott says.
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