The cases of identity theft are on the rise today. It is a problem that affects both the living and the deceased. The data indicates that there are about 2200 incidences of identity theft per day. This explains why identity theft protection is crucial.
The deceased are prone to identity theft due to the fact that the family is mourning and no one is paying attention to the dead person’s personal details as well as finances. In most cases, identity theft is the last thing on one’s mind when a loved one dies. The good news is that there are a number of ways you can employ to deter identity thieves and to protect the identity of your loved ones.
The motives for ghosting can be difficult to understand. However, some of the identity thieves are interested in acquiring a new identity for a long term use. This is because most of these criminals are running from something such as severe debt or even criminal record.
Here are the steps that family members can employ to protect the deceased from identity theft:
Notify Credit Reporting Agencies
After an individual dies, it takes 1 to 6 months for all the 3 credit agencies to be notified. A death certificate is issued through the state’s office of vital statistics or state agency. After obtaining death certificate, it is important to contact the credit bureaus as soon as possible. However, one must not depend on the credit bureaus to get a word out.
Send the original copies of the death certificates to all the institutions where the departed had a financial relationship. Notify all creditors, insurance companies, credit unions, banks, Social Security Administration (SSA), brokerage house as well as pension issuer. In addition, the family members should cancel the driving licensed of the deceased by contacting the State’s Department of Motor Vehicles as well as informing the Direct Marketing Association to place the name of the deceased on the “deceased do not contact list”
Give Minimal Details to the Public
It is essential to share the details regarding your loved one in a obituary, relatives should not disclose the information that can be used to apply credit card, open a bank account or insurance policy. Some family members can publish vital information in a newspaper, therefore making it easy for the thieves to gather the information they need. Do not put the deceased’s actual birth date and the middle name on the obituary. This way, you will be able to deter identity thieves. Other things to avoid include deceased’s exact address and more.
Monitor Your Loved One’s Credit Report
After taking all the necessary precautions, it is important to monitor the credit report of the deceased by requesting a free report from the credit-reporting bureau.
Gather Up helpful Documents
Once a relative dies, you should gather all the vital documents. Remember that an identity thief will be looking for any document with financial or personal information to use. Some of the things you should gather include passport, hospital records and other revealing documents.
Make sure that the people who have access to the deceased’s personal papers are few. Surprisingly, family members can steal the documents of the deceased, especially if they have serious financial problems.