Protecting the identities of our loved ones

Protecting the identities of our loved ones

Order a copy of the credit report. It is best to obtain a snapshot of what the credit profile looks like at the time of death. If identity theft occurs later, knowing how the credit profile should appear will help identify any fraudulent activity. The surviving spouse or executor will need to request a copy of the credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies.

Flag the file. All three credit bureaus should be contacted and a request should be made to place an alert on the credit file. This alert will notify anyone who pulls the report that the consumer has passed away and not to open accounts or issue credit.

Place the Decedent’s name on the Deceased Do Not Contact List. Doing this will stop any preapproved applications or promotional information being sent in the decedent’s name. Go to for more information.

Notify the Social Security Administration. In most cases the funeral director will notify the Social Security Administration, but it is a good idea to do this yourself in order to be sure that the SSA Death Master File is updated. Once the decedent’s name is placed on this file it helps reduce the risk of financial, employment, and benefits fraud.

Secure and/or destroy documentation. Be sure to collect and securely store vital pieces of identification and documentation. Any old records or documents that are not needed should be shredded or disposed of securely.

Limit the amount of information placed within the obituary. Identity thieves are known to browse obituaries to locate their next victim. When placing an obituary in the newspaper, ensure the information does not disclose too much about the decedent. Do not include their complete address, date of birth, survivor’s names or their professional history. Keep it to age at death, how many people are survivors (i.e. wife, number of grandchildren, etc.) and city and state.

Close Social Media Accounts. Identity thieves browse social media sites for information about their targets. Doing this will prevent identity thieves from possibly taking over the social media account or from gathering additional information which could be used to further their crime.