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Customer sues after bank declares her dead

A Florida woman is suing Chase bank, saying her credit rating was ruined after the bank declared her dead.

Wrenella Pierre spent months trying to convince her bank she was not dead. Now, eight months later, bank executives say they're looking into it.

Pierre has sued JPMorgan Chase, saying the bank has ruined her credit rating and hindered her ability to refinance her home, the Orlando Sentinel reports. She and her husband built a home in Oviedo, Fla., in 2007 and had two mortgages totaling $460,000 from Chase. When the value of her home declined, she tried to modify her mortgage. Later, she found out why she was unsuccessful.

Chase had reported her dead to several different credit agencies.

On Nov. 2, 2010, Chase sent Pierre's family a letter of condolence and promised that they would be contacted within 30 to 60 days by one of the bank's employees "who specialize in deceased care matters" to discuss "any outstanding balances."

Pierre went to the bank to let them know, in person, that she was still alive, but a month later credit-reporting agencies were still reporting that she was dead.

"I think that this goes further than crappy records," Billy Howard, Pierre's lawyer, told "They're just worried about making money."

Howard, who works with the Morgan and Morgan law firm in Tampa, said bank debt collectors increasingly pursue family members to try to make them pay the deceased's debts.

Nancy Norris, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan Chase, declined to discuss details but told the Orlando Sentinel the bank was looking into the case.

"We're investigating how it happened," she said.

Last week reported that a Chase customer had been arrested and jailed for four nights after trying to cash a Chase cashier check at a Chase branch in Auburn, Wash.

The bank has apologized and settled with the customer in that case.