5 Steps to Stop Identity Theft of a Deceased Family Member

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I’ve merely visited the fountain of youth.


I’ve just visited the fountain of youth.

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you meet a person or a group of people that renews your faith in all that’s good in the world? I delivered a speech on identity theft prevention to AARP South Carolina (a chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons – an amazing organization that you should be part of if you are over 50) yesterday morning, and met a group that actually makes me look forward to growing up. Doris, Barb, Leigh Ann, Patrick, Lynda, Bill, Ridge, Charlie, Emily (I could name 50 more)… these are the people that greeted me like I was part of their family and treated me like someone special. They are some of the youngest spirits I’ve ever met. And I learned a great deal from them… AARP had asked me to speak at their annual meeting as a thank you to their incredibly dedicated core of volunteers. These are people who put their muscle where their mouth is. And they paid attention and were so engaged that it was like giving a motivational identity theft speech. They inspired me! They must have had fifty additional great questions after the presentation that I didn’t have time to answer because they were headed into additional sessions.

Given that, I’d like to take a few minutes to address a few of the items that pertain specifically to identity theft prevention for retirees and people over 50. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, let me point you to the resources on identity theft prevention that AARP provides on their website. They are extensive and geared to the retiree population.

But I want to elaborate on a question that one member of the audience brought up after the speech: the theft of someone’s identity after they are deceased. This has to be one of the most callous, horrific forms of identity theft. Here a spouse is having to deal with the loss of their soul mate and a criminal takes advantage of their distraction and grief to profit from the deceased’s identity.

Here are 5 steps to take after a loved-one has passed away to make sure that their identity rests in peace:

  1. Short Obituaries. Make sure that you don’t include too much identifying information when you write the obituary. Identity thieves use this information (mother’s maiden name, address, ancestry, occupation, birth date, death date) to set up new accounts, licenses, etc. in the deceased person’s name. It is important to honor the person, just don’t give away all of their personal information.
  2. Protect Death Certificates. Guard the death certificate like you would a birth certificate or other piece of identity. You will need to fax this document to certain organizations in order to prove that your family member is deceased, but only send it to trusted institutions who absolutely won’t take the name off of the account without it. When you are done with the death certificate, store the original and all copies in your SentrySafe where you keep other identity documents. Be forewarned that for securities sake, many organizations are requiring an original copy of the death certificate as proof, so ask for 10-12 originals copies when you request the death certificate.
  3. Notify Credit Bureaus. Immediately notify the three credit reporting bureaus that your family member has passed away. Request that the credit report is flagged with the note: Deceased, Do Not Issue Credit. Request a copy of the decedent’s credit report so that you will have a list of all of the accounts you need to modify/close (see Step 4). The procedure varies by credit burea, so the numbers to contact them are as follows: Experian – 888-397-3742; Equifax – 888-766-0008; TransUnion – 800-680-7289. Don’t wait for the Social Security Administration to notify the credit bureaus – it takes them too long! And make sure to log all correspondence and conversations and send documents via certified mail so that you have proof of delivery, should you ever need to dispute a claim of non-receipt.
  4. Notify Financial Institutions. Notify all banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, stock brokers, mortgage companies, loan/lien holders, etc. about the death of your family member (if it was a joint account OR an account under their name). The executor or surviving spouse will need to resolve all outstanding debts and how they will be dealt with before the account can be closed or the deceased person’s name is removed from the account. Also notify the Social Security Administration, Veteran’s Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles, professional license associations (Bar Association), membership programs (Costco, Sam’s, Blockbuster, etc.) and any creditors or collection agencies with which the deceased had an account or membership. This is a difficult time to put in all of the work to protect an identity that should be left alone; but the current reality is that the identities of deceased individuals are easier to steal and abuse than those of the living.
  5. Share Wisely with Family Members. Unfortunately, many cases of deceased identity theft are committed by a member of the deceased’s family. It might be a relative who is in financial trouble, a friend who has a costly addiction or a child that feels he or she was wronged in the will or estate planning. For that reason, the identifying information of a deceased family member should be kept to as small a circle as possible. It seems to work best when one family member is the point-person for collection of documents, closing of accounts, checking of credit, etc. Generally this is someone other than the person who organizes all of the other events that surround the death of a loved one.

This is a heavy topic on the heels of such a wonderful encounter in South Carolina. But as any one who has survived the death of a spouse knows, the responsibility and respect for that person continue long past the date of their death. I hope that these suggestions make that burden/blessing a little bit easier.


Have you ever had one of these experiences the place you meet a specific individual or a group of people who renews your faith in all that’s good on this planet? I delivered a speech on id theft prevention to AARP South Carolina (a chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons – a large group that attempt to be half of in the event you’re over 50) yesterday morning, and met a group that basically makes me look forward to rising up. Doris, Barb, Leigh Ann, Patrick, Lynda, Bill, Ridge, Charlie, Emily (I might determine 50 additional)… these are the parents that greeted me like I was half of their family and dealt with me like any person specific. They are some of the youngest spirits I’ve ever met. And I found a good deal from them… AARP had requested me to converse at their annual meeting as a thanks to their extraordinarily devoted core of volunteers. These are people who put their muscle the place their mouth is. And they paid consideration and had been so engaged that it was like giving a motivational id theft speech. They impressed me! They ought to have had fifty additional good questions after the presentation that I didn’t have time to reply as a end result of they’ve been headed into additional courses.

Given that, I’d like to take a jiffy to deal with a few of the objects that pertain notably to identification theft prevention for retirees and different individuals over 50. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, let me degree you to the resources on identity theft prevention that AARP provides on their site. They are in depth and geared to the retiree inhabitants.

But I want to elaborate on a question that one member of the viewers launched up after the speech: the theft of someone’s id after they’re deceased. This has to be one of primarily probably the most callous, horrific sorts of identification theft. Here a companion is having to deal with the loss of their soul mate and a jail takes profit of their distraction and grief to income from the deceased’s id.

Here are 5 steps to take after a cherished-one has handed away to assure that their id rests in peace:

  1. Short Obituaries. Make constructive that you just don’t embrace an extreme quantity of determining knowledge when you write the obituary. Identity thieves use this information (mother’s maiden determine, deal with, ancestry, occupation, begin date, dying date) to organize new accounts, licenses, and so forth. inside the deceased particular person’s title. It is important to honor the person, merely don’t give away all of their personal information.
  2. Protect Death Certificates. Guard the loss of life certificates reminiscent of you’d a begin certificates or totally different piece of identification. You will need to fax this doc to positive organizations in order to present that your member of the household is deceased, nevertheless solely ship it to trusted institutions who utterly gained’t take the determine off of the account with out it. When you are executed with the loss of life certificates, retailer the distinctive and all copies in your SentrySafe the place you keep totally different id paperwork. Be forewarned that for securities sake, many organizations are requiring an genuine copy of the demise certificates as proof, so ask for 10-12 originals copies everytime you request the demise certificates.
  3. Notify Credit Bureaus. Immediately notify the three credit score rating reporting bureaus that your member of the household has handed away. Request that the credit score rating report is flagged with the observe: Deceased, Do Not Issue Credit. Request a copy of the decedent’s credit score rating report so that you simply simply will have a itemizing of all of the accounts you need to modify/shut (see Step C). The course of varies by credit score rating burea, so the numbers to contact them are as follows: Experian – 888-397-3742; Equifax – 888-766-0008; TransUnion – 800-680-7289. Don’t await the Social Security Administration to notify the credit score rating bureaus – it takes them too prolonged! And be sure to log all correspondence and conversations and ship paperwork by way of licensed mail so that you’ve got proof of provide, do you’ve got to ever need to dispute a declare of non-receipt.
  4. Notify Financial Institutions. Notify all banks, insurance coverage protection companies, financial institution card companies, stock brokers, mortgage companies, mortgage/lien holders, and lots of others. with regard to the dying of your member of the household (if it was a joint account OR an account under their determine). The or surviving associate will need to resolve all wonderful cash owed and the best way they will be dealt with sooner than the account is perhaps closed or the deceased specific individual’s determine is away from the account. Also notify the Social Security Administration, Veteran’s Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles, expert license associations (Bar Association), membership packages (Costco, Sam’s, Blockbuster, and lots of others.) and any collectors or assortment companies with which the deceased had an account or membership. This is a troublesome time to put in all of the work to defend an id that ought to be left alone; nevertheless the current actuality is that the identities of deceased individuals are easier to steal and abuse than these of the dwelling.
  5. Share Wisely with Family Members. Unfortunately, many situations of deceased identification theft are devoted by a member of the deceased’s family. It is probably a relative who’s in financial problem, a good pal who has a expensive behavior or a child that feels he or she was wronged inside the will or property planning. For that function, the determining information of a deceased member of the household have to be saved to as small a circle as potential. It seems to work best when one member of the household is the aim-particular person for assortment of paperwork, closing of accounts, checking of credit score rating, and so forth. Generally that’s someone apart from the one which organizes all of the other events that embody the dying of a beloved one.

This is a heavy matter on the heels of such a implausible encounter in South Carolina. But as anyone who has survived the demise of a associate is conscious of, the accountability and respect for that specific individual proceed lengthy gone the date of their demise. I hope that these options make that burden/blessing a little bit easier.

Eleanore

Eleanore

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