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Swede mistakenly declared dead after personal number mishap

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Swede mistakenly declared dead after personal number mishap
Letters from the bank rarely carry good news, but this one was worse than most. Photo. Pontus Lundahl/TT
08:30 CET+01:00
A 47-year-old Swedish woman had to prove she was still alive after a tax agency typo led authorities to believe she was dead.

The woman's bureaucratic ordeal began in June when she received a mysterious letter from the bank implying that she had died. They had not just sent it to the wrong person: a phone call later she found out that she had been declared dead by the tax agency Skatteverket six days earlier.

An apologetic Skatteverket administrative officer explained that they had accidentally put some of the figures in someone else's personal ID number (personnummer) – the ubiquitous ten-digit number used to identify people in Sweden – in the wrong order, thus mistakenly pronouncing the woman deceased.

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The error, once discovered, was quickly fixed by the tax agency, but the woman still had to spend several hours reopening blocked bank accounts and making sure she could keep paying her mortgage.

She told Sörmlands Nyheter that she understood that it had been a mistake caused by human error and had no hard feelings, but that the incident had still affected her physical and mental health.

The woman, who lives in Nyköping municipality, will receive 20,500 kronor ($2,277) in damages.

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