Dealing with the death of a friend or a family member can be difficult. During those trying times however, it is important to become aware of possible dangers facing your recently deceased loved one.
According to data from ID Analytics, 2.5 million deceased Americans each year are victims of identity theft. Identity thieves usually can find the information they need from hospitals, funerals, and even some obituaries. They may file bogus tax returns, claim fraudulent health care procedures, and more, all in the name of a dead individual. This practice is known as “ghosting,” and below are a few ways that you can prevent it from happening to a recently deceased friend or relative.
Ways to protect against “ghosting”
Limit specific obituary details
Listing a deceased person’s age in an obituary or death notice is acceptable. It is not recommended that their date of birth, maiden name, home address, or any other details that may further identify them to the public are included.
Alert all credit reporting agencies
Each agency may require a death certificate to ensure that your claim is valid, though upon receipt of the documents they should flag all future credit report inquiries with an alert such as “Deceased. Do not issue credit.” A credit report should also be obtained, so that each active account may be closed and any pending collections dealt with. Best practice states that the deceased individual’s credit should be checked after a few weeks, and again after a few months in order to monitor for suspicious activity. Below are the credit reporting agencies that should be contacted.
- Equifax Information Services LLC Office of Consumer Affairs
- TransUnion LLC
Notify banks, and other financial institutions
In instances where a surviving spouse is present, or another person with access to the deceased person’s account, a death certificate should be distributed to all credit card companies, banks, stock brokers, loan holders, and mortgage companies as soon as possible. Closed accounts should be labeled as “Closed. Account holder is deceased,” in order to prevent any miscommunication in the future.
Report the death to all other institutions
Alert all other entities, such as the Social Security Administration and Department of Motor Vehicles, and verify that they have taken the dead person’s information out of circulation. If you have questions regarding identity theft or feel one of your loved ones may have been a victim, we invite you to call and speak with an experienced Florida bankruptcy lawyer at Kelley & Fulton today.