ID Theft and the Deceased
July 7th, 2015
Everyone has heard horror stories about identity theft and millions of Americans take steps to protect themselves by regularly checking their credit reports. However, the deceased cannot check their own credit reports. This gives thieves an opportunity.
13WMAZ reported, in a recent article titled "Protecting the dead against ID theft," that every year 800,000 deceased people are targeted for identity theft and 1.6 million credit applications are made on the behalf of the deceased.
While this does not create any problems for the deceased, it can cause their families grief.
Survivors will not have to pay any money, however, they are often the victims of harassing collections calls. The problem is that the deceased cannot monitor their credit reports and thieves gamble that no one else is.
If no one checks the credit reports, then the credit bureaus do not learn that the person has passed away and they cannot pass that information on to potential creditors.
Fortunately, there is a relatively easy solution to this problem.
The executor of the estate can and should send an original copy of a death certificate to all three major credit bureaus. It is also a good idea to send an original death certificate to the deceased's known creditors and any financial institutions with which he or she had business.
When that is all done, the credit bureaus will mark credit reports appropriately and creditors that thieves try to apply to will be on notice that the application is a scam.
Reference: 13WMAZ (June 25, 2015) "Protecting the dead against ID theft."