Is Someone Using the Identity of a Recently Deceased Loved One?

Sounds pretty sick and weird to even ask this question…but it’s become an increasing risk and trend with today’s massive use of the internet.

Identity theft is a hot topic and you can’t go very far without reading how this is impacting people all around the country. And as the internet gets used more widely it will create more and more opportunities. Just something to boggle the mind a bit about information on the internet…today there are over 15 Trillion webpages live on the internet…yes Trillion. That is a lot of information available so it’s easy to see why more and more people are using the internet, buying on the internet, and sharing their personal information on the internet.

But it goes beyond the internet as well. Because of all the easy access to information, people are getting more and more complacent about paper…like their bills, bank statements, and other information that contains personal information. Today many just throw these away without shredding. This is actually where much of the problem of identity theft begins.

For the recently deceased, the thieves watch the obituaries daily. They find out where these people lived and in many cases the children are left “cleaning out” their residences. This means throwing lots of things away…including important documents. No body worries about them much because, after all, they are no longer with us. That is where the thieves strike. They scour the trash and come up with everything they need to create a new identity…from the person who no longer needs it.

Many times the family of the deceased person doesn’t think about closing down all their information, just mainly the bank accounts. That leaves a ton of information still active on the internet unless someone specifically goes in and closes it down. For example, if the person had disability insurance that didn’t get used because they passed away before being disabled, many would just figure it goes away. While it might to a recipient, the records are still there and active until someone closes them down. There are lots of instances such as this to be aware of.

The National Funeral Directors Association provides a pretty complete list of governmental agencies and other important information that should be closed down after someone passes away. It’s worth checking out the list to have in mind when this event occurs. The key is to be prepared before the passing of a loved one…it’s always harder after it happens.

If you have any questions about any of these items or how to go about it, just give me a call and I’ll be happy to talk with you about it. The key is to do some preplanning around this before something happens…when you are thinking is clearer and you have the ability and time to take some actions. It’s a gut wrenching feeling to find out someone you loved is showing up around the country using their information…generally not for good things. It can be prevented with a little planning and preparation…and one less worry for you.

About the Author Tom Walker

I believe establishing and maintaining long-term relationships is the key to serving clients and their families. To that end, I work every day to deliver legal services efficiently in a supportive, empathetic environment.

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