Stealing Dead People's Identities
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - To you, a cemetery may represent loved ones and memories. To an identity thief, it means money. "They're very good at figuring out how to piece together all of your life," says IT consultant Jeff Farr. He says depending on how sophisticated the ID thief is, they could open a credit card in your deceased relative's name, even take out a mortgage. And when financial institutions find out about the fraud? "Often times heirs of the deceased have to deal with it," says Farr.
Obituaries can be a good source for aspiring ID thieves, but the experts have two different opinions on how you should handle a loved one's last written history." Farr says, "There's no need to put things like a birth date."
Steve Kuzma, the owner of Carolina Funeral and Cremation disagrees. He says the real jackpot for ID thieves is the death certificate, which is public record. "Everything you need to steal a person's ID is on a death certificate," he says. That includes birth date, birth place surviving spouse and social security number.
Kuzma takes precautions when handling the documents for families. He says, "They say well, their grandson is gonna come down, I need his name and when he arrives here, he has to have a photo id for me to release those documents to him."
Experts also recommend monitoring a loved one's credit score for at least one year after their death but ideally, two or three years. Kuzma says, "People are still very trusting, unfortunately society is getting more and more sleazy."
There's apparently also an iPhone app that claims to find deceased people's social security numbers but Farr says it doesn't work.
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