The loss of a loved one can be a devastating experience. Unfortunately, there are cold-hearted criminals out there who will take advantage of this situation.
According to the IRSAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.BankFive.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of BankFive.com. Come back soon!, thieves use the identities of more than 2 million deceased Americans each year to deceitfully apply for loans and credit cards, and pursue other illegal activities requiring an individual’s identification.
Crooks have also been known to file tax returns using identities of the dead in order to collect refunds – a move that some experts claim has lined the pockets of fraudsters to the tune of billions of dollars annually.
Fortunately, survivors are not responsible for illicit charges if their names are not on the accounts that have been fraudulently opened. Even so, having to deal with credit collectors and unraveling the web of deceit brought on by identity thieves can cause plenty of headaches, often for months beyond a person’s death.
There are ways, however, to reduce or totally prevent exposure to these types of crimes. Precautions include:
- Limiting the amount of information placed in published obituaries, which are considered a potential treasure trove for many crooks. For instance, only list the age of the deceased, not their birthdate. And try to avoid including a woman’s maiden name or other personal references that could be of benefit to fraudsters. Omitting the person’s address can be helpful as well, since there are crooks who will stoop so low as to burglarize a deceased person’s home during the funeral.
- Send official copies of the death certificate (photocopies typically aren’t acceptable) to all entities that the deceased had financial interactions with, such as banks, pension issuers, insurance companies, financial advisors, and the Social Security Administration.
- Death certificates should also be sent to the nation’s three credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax – after a loved one has passed away, and each of them should be asked to activate a “deceased alert” for the individual’s file just in case someone tries to steal their identity.
- If necessary, cancel the deceased person’s driver’s license and registration with the state department that oversees these functions.
- Any document or item containing a deceased loved one’s financial or personal information should be collected and kept in a secure place. These include wallets, bank statements, hospital records, and pension statements. Identity thieves are on the prowl for this type of information. And restrict the number of people who have access to this information. It’s not unusual for family members or friends to steal the identity of a deceased loved one if they are looking for a way to bail out of financial trouble.
- And it’s smart to go beyond keeping physical documents in a safe place. Password-protect the deceased person’s computer should it contain similar sensitive information.
- Another precaution is to check your loved one’s credit reportsAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.BankFive.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of BankFive.com. Come back soon! a few months after they have died to ensure that no one has hijacked their identity and opened bogus credit or bank accounts in their name.
Coping with the death of someone close to you is difficult enough. The last thing you want is to have to deal with the fallout caused by unscrupulous, uncaring individuals.