Ashley Walker didn't know her father's death would kill her credit score.
When Walker's father, Kenneth Lovell, died of lung cancer on Aug. 31, the Social Security Administration accidentally listed her as deceased in its Master Death File.
That fatal mistake affects about 6,000 people a year, according to the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General. And that figure is actually lower than the estimated 12,000 inaccurately reported as dead in 2011, the last time the inspector general did an audit of the data.
"If I'm supposed to be dead, where is my death certificate?" asked Walker, a 28-year-old junior at Chicago State University studying chemistry, who recently accepted a paid summer internship at Harvard University's astrochemistry lab. She hopes to complete a doctorate in the field.