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‘Identity Theft’ a growing problem after someone dies

The latest wrinkle in “identity theft” involves criminals opening accounts in the name of people who are recently deceased.  If a relative has recently died, you might want to take steps to avoid this problem.  For instance, you should immediately notify the Social Security Administration of the death, to prevent someone from using the deceased’s Social Security number.  You should also contact the three leading credit bureaus and report the death.  (Social Security will typically notify the credit bureaus, but this usually takes some time).  If you publish an obituary in the newspaper, its wise to avoid including the deceased’s address and date of birth.  Identity thieves can use this information to establish a fake account.  You can simply list the deceased’s age, without specifying a birthday.

Another note on obituaries:  Think twice about publishing the date and time of the funeral, because this tells thieves when you and your loves ones will not be at home.  If you do publish the funeral details, you might want to ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house during that time.

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