Identity Theft – Estate Planning Attorneys On Ghosting

Identity Theft is an ever-evolving issue. Thieves are constantly changing their methods to steal people’s identities for their benefit.  After a loved one passes, there is much heartache and many tasks to complete to close their estate; the last thing you are thinking about is identity theft. But nationwide, there has been an increase in identity theft occurring to people who have passed away.

Approximately 2.5 million deceased Americans are victims of people stealing their identity after passing; a term referred to as “ghosting.”  And after the losses in the pandemic, this number is only expected to increase.  Sacramento estate planning attorneys encourage families to work swiftly to minimize the chances of their loved one’s identity being stolen after they pass.

The first six months after a person passes are the most crucial period when their identity is at risk. Many families inadvertently give away information to the thieves without even being aware.  When writing your loved one’s obituary, be careful not to disclose too much.  By giving exact birthdates, places, and maiden names, thieves can get enough information to steal their identity before you have even had a chance to report the death.  During this time, the various government and credit agencies might not have registered your loved one as deceased in their official records.  There are a few things you can do to expedite this process and prevent identity theft:

  • Order up to 30 copies of the Death Certificate.
  • Send the Death Certificate (through certified mail) to all three credit reporting agencies.  They will then place a deceased hold on their credit.
  • Call the Social Security Administration and report their death.
  • Send the Death Certificate (through certified mail) to all banks, insurance, mortgage, and credit providers, and have the person listed as deceased on the account so they cannot be accessed.
  • Cancel their Driver’s License through the DMV

Of course, protection from identity theft is an ongoing process, and you should consider running a credit report shortly after your loved one’s passing to ensure there is no recent activity.  Sacramento Estate planning attorneys suggest doing this again a few months later, providing nothing new has been reported.

Knowing your loved one’s information is being used after his or her passing can be a violation compounded on the hurt and grief of losing a loved one.  Please call 800-244-8814, and our California estate and probate attorneys will help you promptly and swiftly settle your loved one’s affairs to avoid the possibility of identity theft.

If you have any further questions about asset protection planning and strategies to shield your wealth, or if you’d like to have your current asset protection plan reviewed to make sure it still meets your needs, please contact us at our California asset protection office at 800-244-8814 to set up a consultation.

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