Identity thieves and scammers have discovered that obituaries are a great source of typically private information that can be used to steal identities and perpetrate scams.
Unfortunately, the more information and facts you include in an obituary of a departed loved one whose life you are trying to honor, the greater the risk—for the departed and for the survivors. According to a recent AARP publication, “Nearly 800,000 people a year are specifically targeted after death, because no one’s checking their credit reports. With details gleaned from an obit, crooks can often purchase or figure out the person’s Social Security number to fraudulently open credit card accounts, apply for loans or even file tax returns to collect refunds. (The first five digits of a Social Security number are linked to a time and place of birth.)”
Here are items you should not include in an obituary should you be called upon the write one:
- Birth dates
- Middle names
- Home addresses
- Maiden names for anyone
- Lastly, while this may be difficult to follow, don’t even include the names of family survivors. Unfortunately, if you do include them, it puts family members at risk of identity theft and scams.
Here are items that you should do following the death of a family member:
- Promptly send requests to each of the major credit-reporting bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to flag the person’s account as “deceased.” This permanently stops new credit from being issued in the person’s name. In order to place this flag, you’ll need a certified copy of the death certificate, proof that you are the executor or spouse of the deceased, and other details about the deceased.
- Promptly notify the Social Security Administration (800-772-1213), the IRS, banks, insurers, brokerages, credit card issuers, and mortgage companies, in case scammers approach them about the deceased. Also, close down their accounts on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The bottom line is there’s really no better time than the present to become a LibertyID member for identity theft restoration protection. Our extended family plan covers the member, their spouse/partner, the member and spouse’s/partner’s parents and their children. When you sign up for LibertyID, you’re covering yourself and your family from the fallout of identity theft and the potentially hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars lost due to identity theft.