When there was a death in the family, I used to tell my estate planning clients not to worry. I told them to take the time they needed to mourn. I could do this because an estate planning trust bought them additional time. Unfortunately, now a death is nothing but an opportunity for identity thieves.
Identity thieves take a deceased’s information and use it for fraudulent transactions before anyone notices. This leaves a mess for the unsuspecting family to clean up. Now when there is a death, there a few important steps that must be taken care of.
1. Notify the Social Security Administration. The funeral home should do this, but you should make certain it happens. You can notify the Administration at 1-800-722-1213.This keeps thieves from using the deceased’s Social Security number.
2. Send a letter and death certificate to the three major credit-reporting companies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
3. Fax or mail a death certificate to loan companies and banks where the deceased held accounts. This enables the organization to close the accounts.
4. Write to the department of motor vehicles and ask them to cancel the driver’s license. This will keep thieves from ordering duplicates.
5. Finally, notify your insurance and medical insurance providers. This will prevent thieves from filing claims or using your spouse’s medical insurance. Medical insurance fraud is a huge draw for identity thieves.
Even when an estate plan is in place, these are all essential steps that must be taken after a loved one has died.