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16 September 2010, 16:29
It's not the kind of thing you expect to drop through your letterbox ... a notice of your own death and a demand for cash.
But that's what happened to Mildred Rapley earlier this month when Stevenage Borough Council got in touch with her - or rather the supposed executors of her will.
Officials sent a letter to her home address saying they had sincere condolences for her death but she had been overpaid some housing benefit and it needed repaying.
The 84 year old from Stevenage got in touch with her local paper saying the blunder could have killed her through the shock.
A spokesman for Stevenage Borough Council said: "Due to an administration error, Mrs Rapley’s Housing and Council Tax benefit was cancelled and letters issued. This was an unfortunate error and we have reviewed our internal procedures to reduce the chances of such a mistake happening in the future.
“As soon as the situation was brought to our attention we offered our apologies to Mrs Rapley and immediately reinstated her Housing and Council Tax Benefit. In addition, our Benefits Manager is writing to Mrs Rapley to apologise.
“We deal with around 21,000 change or circumstances per year and mistakes of this type are extremely rare. We are sorry for any distress caused.”