Earlier this month we posted a blog about identity theft during the hollidays. Malls in North County, South Bay, Carlsbad, and Mission Valley are targets for pick pockets and thieves who look to steal purses. But did you know that even deceased persons can be victims of identity theft? The deceased are easy targets because sometimes it takes weeks or months and in some cases years for financial institutions to find out about a death. The identity of a deceased person can be stolen in a variety of ways. Some identity thieves watch the obituaries, look up death certificates, or obtain private information from health care providers, unknowing relatives, or internet genealogy web sites.
Back in 2006 in Kentucky a financial planner used the confidential data of 160 deceased persons to acquire 700 credit cards from financial institutions and scammed nearly $2 million over a three year period
Although the deceased person doesn’t have to be concerned with his or her credit rating, identity theft can cause emotional distress for the family. Identity Theft Resource Center has valuable information about how to protect yourself and your deceased loved one from identity theft. They also have an information sheet with steps to take to decrease the risk of identity theft such as notifying the credit bureaus to put a “deceased” notation in their file, obtaining a copy of the decedent’s credit report, and a list of agencies and companies to notify of the death. Sample letters can be found at the California Office of Privacy Protection.
You can also stop the junk mail by contacting the Direct Marketing Assn. There you can register to take the deceased’s name off mailing lists with their Deceased Do Not Contact List.
If your loved one had a will which needs to be probated or a trust which needs to be administered after death, Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation handles many of the above steps as part of their representation. Contact us if we can help with trust administration or probate.