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ID Theft and Death
This month I’d like to talk about something personal to me - identity theft after the death of a loved one. If you’ve dropped by my office recently, you may know that my father passed away last month. Luckily for my family, he had all of his estate planning documents in order and the administration of his estate has been, for the most part, problem-free. But, there’s been one hiccup that I’d like to share because, even though I knew it could happen, I didn’t really expect it to. You see, a couple days after Dad died, I had his mail forwarded to my house for security purposes. Less than three weeks later, Dad began receiving letters from various banks referencing credit applications recently submitted in his name. Suspicious, I contacted the banks and learned that someone had submitted the applications using Dad’s personal information after he died. Fortunately, Dad had a comprehensive estate plan giving me authority to act on his behalf and I knew what to do, so I was able to resolve this issue quickly and relatively easily.
Dad’s case is not unique and happens to many deceased individuals each year. According to the AARP, identity thieves use the personal information of nearly 2.5 million deceased Americans every year. Of those, 800,000 are deliberately targeted; the identities of the others are simply used by chance. It’s called “ghosting,” and the thieves have ample time to rack up charges because of the lapse in time it takes to receive, share, and register death certificates – and also because grieving survivors often are not monitoring the deceased loved one’s credit.
If you have questions about how to protect yourselves or a loved one after death, we have the answers. Give us a call at 810-229-0220 and we can help!
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