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3 Tips to Protect Deceased Relatives from Identity Theft

September 17, 2015

Your identity can be stolen in the blink of an eye, even a deceased person; protect your loved ones against identity scams.

Stories of a stolen identity are crimes that make headlines and plague innocent victims every day—even if those victims are deceased. Since it takes up to six months for financial institutions to process and finalize death records, identity theft scams on deceased persons can be much harder to identify than normal scams. It is hard to focus on identity prevention when dealing with a loved one’s passing, but there are a few simple things you and your financial advisor can do to make sure your loved one’s identity is safe.

3 helpful tips

  1. Don’t share too much in the obituary- Be sure that you are not publicly exposing sensitive information in the obituary. Identity thieves often begin their attack by soliciting information from obituaries and funeral homes. Abstain from providing the exact birth date in the obit, and be careful about revealing too much detail about family names. A hacker can tap into accounts by answering your “secret questions”- which are often times questions like “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “What is the name of your paternal grandfather?” etc., so be careful about how many family details you provide to the public.
  2. Cancel your loved one’s driver’s license and passport- Identity thieves can request replacement or duplicate licenses so make sure you cancel right away by calling your local DMV. To cancel a passport, you need to mail the passport and the death certificate to the Consular Lost and Stolen Passports Unit.
  3. Inform financial organizations immediately about the death- It can take a long time for financial organizations to process a death, so be sure to have your advisor inform all financial organizations of the passing. Make sure that a death certificate is mailed to the three main credit reporting bureaus- Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, along with a request that they place a deceased alert on your loved one’s credit report. Banks, Social Security, credit card companies, insurers, etc., will also need to be notified or have a death certificate sent to them. Make sure your advisor follows up to make sure everything has been processed by financial organizations and that your loved one’s status has been changed in their systems.

Make sure that every few months, for the first year after your loved one’s death, your financial advisor requests a credit report from each of the three bureaus to make sure everything is all set. It is an unfortunate reality that identity theft can hurt an already grief stricken family.

Questions? Contact any member of KLR Wealth Management, LLC.

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