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Identity Theft Protection Measures

 Thieves Now Targeting Deceased

Thieves have long preyed on the families of the deceased. Most people are aware of the long standing warning not to publicize the deceased address in obituaries and have someone house sit during funeral services.

With the advent of modern technology that facilitates easy access to public domain information, thieves are now targeting the deceased for identity theft. The intent of some thieves is to establish bogus checking or charge card accounts. Others adopt the deceased’s identity to escape immigration or legal problems.

Survivors, who are preoccupied with grief and who are unfamiliar with or may not be closely monitoring the deceased’s accounts, are prime targets for identity thieves. In 2004 alone, over 400,000 checking accounts were opened in the name of deceased people.

Simple steps to help avoid identity theft

1.)  Immediately upon the death of a loved one, locate and secure all personal information including wallets, driver’s license, social security card, birth and marriage certificates, checkbooks, credit cards, and bank statements. Shred any unnecessary documents that contain personal information like social security numbers, birth date, etc.

2.) Restrict access to the decedent’s home to people you know and trust. Consider changing the locks.

3.) If necessary, notify the post office to have all incoming mail directed to the person who is in charge of the estate.

4.) Don’t include detailed information in the obituary that might assist identity thieves in tracking down the data they need. Consider only using year of birth and death on grave markers.

5.) Send a certified letter with a return receipt request to all three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) notifying them of the death and requesting that a “deceased alert” be placed on the account.

6.) Also notify government agencies, banks, and insurance companies of the death. To expedite notification, call first and then send a confirmation letter.

Click here to download a complete death notification list, complete with credit agency addresses and other helpful information. If you’d like additional information on protecting yourself from identity theft, please email us or call us at 774-7721. We’ll be happy to send you additional materials.


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