Don’t Make the Grieving Process Worse. Protect Your Deceased Loved One’s Information from Identity T
You would think identity theft stops when you cross over from this world into the next. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Identity thieves would sink so low as to steal the identities of your deceased loved ones for their own selfish ends. That is why it is always good to know the best precautions to use on how to prevent identity theft after death.
Can Someone Still the Identity of Someone Who’s Already Dead?
Each year, criminals are stealing the information of at least 2.5 million deceased Americans to fraudulently open financial accounts including credit cards, loans, and other services requiring a Social Security Number as reported by fraud prevention analytics.
Some of those have been specifically targeted while others were proven to be victims of opportunity. If they cannot obtain accurate information of a deceased person, they simply make up Social Security Numbers until they are able to match one with someone who has died.
You can imagine the work being done. It is not easy but these people are persistent, patient, and cunning, and they will not stop as long as they have means of committing these crimes.
How Are They Getting Away With It?
Aren’t financial institutions rigid in their background check and identity theft monitoring? How are these people able to fraudulently use these deceased people’s identity to open credit cards and other loan accounts?
While banks and service providers can be strict in their application processes, there are still ways for identity thieves to be able to steal you or your loved ones information when they have passed away.
Repairing the damage of identity theft can be a long, arduous, endeavor. It can take six months before banks, service providers, as well as credit reporting bureaus and the Social Security Administration itself, can officially register a person’s death certificates. By the time the parties involved have found out, the identity theft perpetrators have had enough time to accumulate charges and benefit from their services.
It is very important to be aware of how to prevent identity theft not just when someone you care about passes away but to protect your information and the assets that you would be leaving behind for your loved ones as a precaution.
Tactics of those who are stealing the identities of the Deceased?
Aside from guessing Social Security Numbers and specifically targeting deceased people to steal their identities, identity thieves have other means that are more sophisticated to perform their crimes.
Sometimes, they can obtain information from hospitals and even funerals! These are places that have a lot of potential victims and you can imagine how easy it is for someone who has the skills to get into the system and just take all the information they can get. In this guide, you will learn some of the do’s and don’ts of identity theft to avoid this scenario.
Another tactic is to look at the obituaries found in publications such as newspapers and online forums. This is an easy way for them to obtain names, addresses, and birth dates. Even more troubling, one can easily purchase the deceased person’s Social Security information online for as little as $10!
Yes, as it happens, there are online services that encourage and capitalize on such criminal activities even with the existing identity theft monitoring available today.
What Else Can They Do?
During tax season, identity thieves may even use the information of the deceased to file tax returns so they can collect refunds. There has been a reported total of $5.2 billion that was fraudulently collected from the IRS in the year 2011. This number will continue to rise if people don’t learn how to prevent identity theft after death.
Identity thieves are getting more creative as the years go by and as technology advances. So, we have to be smarter than them and learn the best identity theft protection services.
Deleting your deceased loved ones’ identity may be process but it is the only way to ensure that they don’t end up as victims of identity theft. This might mean removing every trail that could lead to their information but it is a necessary evil to contend with to avoid further damages.
Misconceptions About Identity Theft
One of the most common misconceptions regarding identity theft is that thieves can no longer use a person’s information once they passed away.Not being aware of identity theft after death can lead to many complications and make a difficult situation harder to cope with.
How Do You Prevent Identity Theft After Death?
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do and some really important actions that you need to take on how to prevent identity theft after death.
If you are a spouse, a family member, or even the only close friend of someone who has died, you can follow some of these steps to ensure that your deceased loved one’s credit file is closed and cannot be obtained by identity thieves.
Basic Precautions: The Do’s and Don’ts of Identity Theft
Let’s start with the simple things you can do that will lessen the risk of identity theft for your loved ones who have passed away.
One of the first things families do is to put in an obituary for their loved one. This is an important part of the grieving process and it is not necessary to omit obituaries altogether. You can still do this but with a few precautions.
When listing the obituary, include only your loved one’s age but not their date of birth. Do not list other personal information such as their mother’s maiden name which can be used by identity thieves. You should also avoid listing the person’s address to avoid robbery during the funeral. As unlikely as it seems, these things do happen.
Get A Hold of Their Financial Accounts
Before you reach out to the credit bureaus, which is a necessary step that will be discussed later, it will be helpful to know which financial accounts your deceased loved one may still have open. You can do this by pulling their credit reports by using various credit report services which are often free of charge.
You will need their name, Social Security Number, their address, and date of birth. Other previous information may also be requested.
Official Steps on How to Prevent Identity Theft After Death
The following are steps which are extremely important in order to prevent identity theft after a loved one’s passing.
Contact the Creditors
In the previous step, hopefully, you have pulled their credit reports and found out which financial accounts they have open. Once you have done this, you need to contact each of the creditors that you see on their credit report.
You have to let them know that the person is now deceased in order for them to close the accounts. This way, they will have a better identity theft monitoring in case someone tries to reopen their accounts. The creditors will also inform you if you need to take further steps upon closing the accounts.
Send Copies of Their Death Certificate to Credit Reporting Bureaus
Next is you need to write to the three main credit reporting bureaus so that they can register it on their file that the person is deceased.
For this process, use only certified mail and include a return receipt to send them copies of your loved one’s death certificate to make it secure and less prone to identity theft. The three main bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Once they receive the death certificate, it will allow them to put a “deceased alert” each time someone tries to pull their credit report. It is a great way to for financial institutions and other service providers to be alerted if in case someone tries to do a business transaction with them using your loved one’s information.
Report the Death to Social Security
Whether the person was collecting any kind of Social Security benefit or not, you need to notify the Social Security Administration of your loved one’s death. You can easily do this by calling Social Security at their toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213.
Cancel Their Driver’s License
You should also contact the department of motor vehicles to let them know that the person is deceased. They will then cancel the driver’s license and prevent anyone from fraudulently obtaining duplicates of the license.
Identity Theft Protection Services
As you can see from the steps above, it is not always an easy process learning how to prevent identity theft after death. If you are unsure how to do these things, the good news is that there are identity theft protection services that will help you prevent identity theft.
With the help of these services, you don’t have to go through the process of deleting your loved one’s information alone. They will help you with every step of the way, ensuring that each transaction is secure and complete.
Another great thing about this is that you can use the service for yourself as a form of precaution and preparation for the sake of the loved ones you will leave behind when you pass on. It is always better to be prepared and think about the consequences of identity theft beforehand.
Above all else, being informed will be your best defense to protect your loved ones from falling victim to identity theft, even after death.
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