|With our lives so documented in a digital world today, the deceased are even easier victims of identity theft than ever. It can be extremely distressing to discover that your loved one’s identity has been stolen following their death. Not only can it be very emotionally tormenting, the financial implications to the good-standing of the deceased (& deceased’s surviving family) can be catastrophic. It can be so frustrating for family to witness the good name and credit of a loved one destroyed with little regard.
Americans are used every year to illegally apply for credit on goods and services.The funeral industry has tried to embrace the digital culture by offering us online obituaries and memorials, even going so far today as posting these on Facebook and Twitter. This just makes it all the easier for the criminal element to identify targets. Once a deceased target has been identified, thieves will dig deeper to get details from the death certificate and Social Security Death Index File. Remember that these are public records and certified copies can be requested online now.
Statistics on identity theft also show that family members do steal and assume an identity – made all the easier as they already have access to personal data.
The tough economic times we are in has also contributed to an increase in crimes of fraud.
What steps can you take to protect your loved one’s identity?
Contact details for the three credit agencies are:Equifax
You will need the deceased’s personal data to request a copy of the credit report. You will also be required to provide data to prove your identity and your relationship to the deceased.
Make a checklist of organizations/institutions to notify
You will need to confirm which accounts are being transferred to surviving family and which are being closed. Any accounts that are to be closed, you should request that a formal statement be added to the record stating, “Account closed. Holder is deceased”.You will also need to notify as quickly as possible:
Due to the rising issue of identity theft, and the fact that many bereaved just do not want to deal with the process of notifying so many agencies, there are companies that undertake this for you. The fees for such a service can vary. Some firms charge a monthly or annual fee for identity protection services and other firms that particularly target supporting the identity protection of the deceased will charge a one-off fixed fee. For example Dignity Shield charges $500.00 to secure your loved one’s identity upon death.It is recommended that you continue to monitor any use of the deceased’s identity for some time after death. An Identity Protection service will do this for you. You can also check the website www.myidscore.com to assess the risk status of an identity.