Dealing with the loss of a loved one is a difficult event for anyone to go through. Not only is there the initial loss, but having to sort through personal things can be just as painful. What can add to the pain is discovering that the dead person’s identity has been stolen.
When someone dies, if the death is not properly reported it opens up opportunities for identity thieves to establish lines of credit, get a driver’s license, or even apply for a job because it can take weeks or months for authorities to include a new death in their databases. In some cases, the death does not get reported at all if the deceased person never received Social Security benefits. What’s even more distressing is the surviving family members may never know their loved one’s identity has been stolen by a fraudster.
Authorities such as the Social Security Administration, local Department of Motor Vehicles and the credit reporting agencies are trying to do their part by registering deaths as soon as they are informed and periodically updating their records/databases. However, that may not be enough and this is what you can do to help prevent identity theft when someone you care about passes on.
– Get multiple copies of the death certificate because most authorities request one to reflect the death in their records
– Notify the credit reporting agencies of your loved one’s death and request a copy of the deceased individual’s credit report to check for after-death fraud
– On the letter you send to the credit bureaus, request that the deceased person’s credit file be suppressed
– Notify all creditors of the person’s death by sending a copy of the death certificate
– Call the Social Security Administration and request a benefits statement for review
– Cancel their driver’s license and any other group membership or affiliation that offers an identification card
– Make sure all documents that contain the SSN of the deceased person are securely stored
– Don’t share too many details about your loved one in any public announcement of their death
I know this is a depressing topic, but it would be even more depressing if you discovered someone you loved had their identity stolen soon after they are gone. So take note, and please follow the steps above if someone you know passes away.