Even the Dead can be Victims of Identity Theft

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Though we think it will never happen to us, you are no safer here in Alabama from identity theft than any where else. It can happen to anyone. The unfortunate victim of this identity theft lived in a small town in Georgia.

We thought we’d heard it all until we ran across a story from MSNBC titled “Grave robbery: Stop identity theft of the dead“. This article reminds us that no one, not children, nor careful adults, not even those who have died are safe from identity theft.

Shortly after Johnny Salter died, his identifying information was obtained by the thieves and sold to the highest bidder. Within a few weeks, they had done their damage. Mr. Salter’s sister was interviewed about what happened. “A new car and about $10,000 had been charged,” says Crane, 73. “It’s bad enough to steal someone’s identity and ruin their credit history. To do it to a dead man, and to his family so shortly after his death, it’s just terrible.”

To protect your self, the article provides some good advice:

* Don’t include details such as day and month of birth (use only the year) or addresses in obituaries. (Aside from preventing identity theft, “you don’t want thieves to visit the house, helping themselves while you’re interring a loved one,” Foley says.)
* Promptly notify the Social Security Administration of the death at 800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days. For the hearing impaired, the number is 800-325-0778.
* Mail copies of the death certificate to all three credit-reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – and all credit issuers to cancel accounts right after the person dies. The credit bureau addresses are:

Equifax Office of Fraud Assistance PO Box 105069 Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian PO Box 9530 Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion PO Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92834
* Contact your state department of motor vehicles to cancel any driver’s license and prevent duplicates from being issued.
* By law, you are entitled a free credit report from all three main bureaus every year. Several weeks following the death, use this service – at www.annualcreditreport.com – to run a credit report on the deceased to ensure there’s no suspicious activity.

Remember to always be careful with your identity and take every precaution to protect it. If you want to read this article, click here.

Another resource for you is to join our Facebook Fan Page – Alabama Consumer Protection Attorneys where we share useful information about the same types of issues that we cover in this blog.

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