Oviedo woman to her bank: I’m not dead

Her suit alleges bank’s error is ruining her credit.

By Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel

7:09 p.m. EDT, July 11, 2011

SANFORD — Wrenella Pierre is not dead, she insists. Her bank, however, disagrees. In November, Chase Bank USA sent her family a letter of condolence.

“We are very sorry to hear of your loss,” it said.

Pierre, of Oviedo, is not amused. She is now suing Chase Bank, saying it has stymied her attempts to refinance her mortgage and ruined her credit rating.

Who, after all, wants to lend money to a dead woman?

“I don’t know why the bank made this type of disastrous mistake,” said her attorney, William Peerce Howard of Tampa. “There is no possible way to have credit extended when you’re deceased.”

Pierre and her husband, Curtis, built a home in Oviedo in 2007. They got two mortgages totaling $460,000 from JPMorgan Chase Bank, according to Seminole County records.

Two years later, after the home had declined in value, Wrenella Pierre tried five or six times without success to have the mortgage modified, according to her suit.

Last year, the bank, for some reason, notified credit-reporting agencies that she had died, the suit says.

On Nov. 2, Chase sent her family the letter of condolence, an unsigned form letter. Someone from the bank would be in touch, it said, about the outstanding balance.

She notified the bank that she was still alive, according to the suit, and a few weeks later tried again, going into one of its branches, asking it to correct the error.

A month later, credit-reporting agencies were still reporting she was dead, according to her suit.

Nancy Norris, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan Chase, on Monday would not discuss details of the case, citing the suit.

“We’re investigating how it happened,” she said.