8 on Your Side Helps 'Dead' Man Regain Life

LAS VEGAS - John Jacobson may look alive and well, but for all intents and purposes, he's not. He's dead.

He hasn't stopped breathing, nor is he a zombie, but any time he tries to apply for credit, get a job or buy a car, he's told he's dead.

"I tried to buy a Honda, and they came out and said, ‘How are you feeling?' I said, ‘Fine.' They said, ‘Really? Because, we show you as dead,'" he said.

Jacobson's situation is quite common. His Social Security number ended up on the Social Security Death Index. If a person dies, his or her number lands in that database.

Unfortunately, mistakes happen, and numbers of those who are alive and well sometimes end up on this list. An estimated 14,000 to 28,000 people are mistakenly put on the death index every year.

It happened to Jacobson, because of a mix-up at Neiman Marcus. Jacobson's ex-wife owned a credit card from the store. When she passed away in 2007, the store asked Jacobson to pay the remaining balance.

When he explained she died, he thought the matter was resolved. Neiman Marcus responded by listing him as dead. As a result, his Social Security number landed on the Death Index, which left him in a lurch.

"I couldn't even co-sign for my daughter's student loans, because I wasn't alive, and that hurts," he said.

Bringing someone back from the dead, at least on paper, isn't as difficult as one might think, but it is time consuming. Visit a Social Security Administration office with a copy of your birth certificate, a driver's license or I.D. and a pay stub, and you can rejoin the living.

The office will give you a letter confirming you're alive. Jacobson received his letter and submitted a copy of it to credit reporting agencies that declared him deceased. Within weeks, his problem was solved.

"I'm amazed everyday at how much better my life is now that I am alive again," he joked.

If you have a problem you want investigated, contact 8 on Your Side at 702-650-1907.


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