How to Reduce the Risk of Identity Theft When a Loved One Dies

A new trend in identity theft – afterlife identity theft – is on the rise, with thieves scouring obituaries for personal information to steal the identities of those who have passed.  When you lose a loved one, it is important to take quick action and notify a number of institutions and government agencies about the death to help prevent afterlife identity theft.

The National Funeral Directors Association provides a list of government and credit reporting agencies, creditors and banks for notification, including:

  • Social Security Administration
  • Veteran’s Administration (if the decedent formerly served in the military)
  • Defense Finance and Accounting Service (military service retiree receiving benefits)
  • Office of Personnel Management (if the decedent is a former federal civil service employee)
  • S. Citizen and Immigration Service (If the decedent was not a U.S. citizen)
  • State Department of Motor Vehicles (If the decedent had a driver’s license)
  • Credit card and merchant card companies
  • Banks, savings and loan associations and credit unions
  • Mortgage companies and lenders
  • Financial planners and stock brokers
  • Pension providers
  • Life insurers and annuity companies
  • Health, medical and dental insurers
  • Disability insurers
  • Automotive insurer
  • Mutual benefit companies
  • All three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
  • Any memberships held by the decedent (ex: health clubs, professional associations, clubs, library etc.)

The NFDA recommends that you notify these entities first by phone followed by a written confirmation, where you will need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate, the decedent’s Social Security number and, if you are the executor or administrator of an estate, the verification of your appointment by a probate court.  Be sure to ask the funeral home you are using if they can provide notification services for you, as many do.

If you would like to have a talk about protecting your loved ones through estate planning, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.