Reports of Her Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Delaware mom and Mark Twain have something in common: Reported dead while alive

Terri Penza and Mark Twain are not two names you would normally hear together. But the famous American humorist and the Delaware stay-at-home mother have something quite interesting in common:

Both were reported dead, while alive.

Penza was renewing her passport days before a family trip to Jamaica in April when U.S. passport officials and the Social Security Administration informed her that she was dead, reports the New Journal.

At first, 49-year-old Penza of Mill Creek thought it was a “crazy fluke.” She had a credit card application for Banana Republic turned down as well because she was deceased. And officials initially didn't tell her what was going on.

Thinking the death notification from Banana Republic in late fall was just a mistake, since all of her other credit cards and accounts were unquestioned, and nobody had sent her any funeral arrangements, Penza went to the Social Security office in New Castle for an explanation.

There, officials confirmed Penza had been listed as deceased sometime in 2008.

But while Aidan Diviny, a Social Security spokesman, says he believes human error is to blame, Penza suspects identity theft.

The Social Security office provided Penza with a letter correcting “a false report of death,” which she presented to officials in Philadelphia and successfully got her passport in time for her tropical trip.

Diviny says the agency doesn't track how often people are mistakenly declared dead.

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