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Prevent identity theft that can complicate probate

When you lose a loved one, there are likely a number of things on your mind. One of them probably is not identity theft - but maybe it should be.

According to ID Analytics, which is a fraud prevention company, criminals acquire the identities of almost two and a half million deceased Americans every year. What good is the identity of someone who has passed away? These fraudsters use the information they have obtained to take out loans, apply for credit cards and file for tax refunds, all in the name of the person who has passed away.

There are some things you can do to prevent your family from being victimized. For one thing, you should be careful about how you word any obituary. With a home address, date of birth and mother's maiden name, identity thieves may be able to acquire your loved one's Social Security number. Therefore, you should not list these things in the obituary (as an alternative to birth date, just list your loved one's age).

You should report the death to each of the three main credit reporting bureaus by sending in a copy of the death certificate. The Social Security Administration should also be notified, and you should request that banks, insurers, investment companies, etc. mark your loved one's accounts as closed due to death. Cancel your loved one's driver's license as well.

When a loved one dies, you will have enough on your plate handling probate disputes and other matters. You should take steps to ensure your job is not complicated by having to straighten out an identity theft as well.

Source: The Sun Prairie Star, Protecting deceased from identity theft, Rachel Wittrock, June 28, 2013

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