Who says only the living are susceptible to identity theft

Sunday, August 9, 2009, 7:14 AM | Leave Comment

I thought when people are dead, they are gone – no more. nada, zilch. The problem is they leave a whole history of their lives behind, especially their financial history.

When people die, it seems that a vacuum gets created and who fills up that vacuum? The grave diggers – not to be confused with the gold diggers of years bygone.

Who says only the living are susceptible to identity theft

Now mind you the scums don’t actually dig up the bodies from the grave. The deceased’s financial history is all over town, state and the Feds.

The technology and access to the Internet has become so common that we think only the good folks are using it. But the schmucks are more technology literate than you and me.

The ID theft prevention gurus tell us there is a huge point of vulnerability when someone dies. But I don’t understand whether this vulnerability lies with the dead or the living that they leave behind.

Identity theft after the death can weigh heavily on the family of the victim. Sorting through a pile of bills, while grieving for the loved one, that may or may not be legitimately payable by the estate will not soften the grief.

If you want to secure the identity of a deceased family member or friend, you are better off informing all authorities about their death, so the schmucks and the scums cannot take advantage of your family’s loss.

Here are some steps to locking a loved one’s identity:

  • First off, get multiple copies of the death certificate.

  • Request a copy of the deceased individual’s credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. Also, request that the deceased’s credit file be suppressed.

  • Notify all creditors on the credit reports by sending them a copy of the death certificate.

  • Call the Social Security Administration and request a benefits statement for review.

  • Cancel the deceased driver’s license and any other group membership or affiliation that offers an identification card, such as their AAA membership or health insurance (or Medicare/ Medicaid).

  • Make sure all documents that contain the SSN of the deceased person are securely stored. But don’t destroy them, just in case you need them.

  • Don’t share too many details about your loved one in any public announcement of their death.

In a Nutshell
The authorities are doing their part. The Social Security Administration, local Department of Motor Vehicles and credit bureaus register a death as soon as they are informed.

However, it may take days, weeks or months after a person dies for authorities to include a new death in their databases. Until then, the schmucks have free reign to open credit cards, get state identification cards and apply for a job using the deceased’s identity.

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