Nearly 2.5 million deceased Americans’ identities are used to establish credit accounts each year, according to new research from ID Analytics ID:A Labs.
To glean the data, ID Labs compared the names, dates of birth and Social Security Numbers for 100 million credit and cell phone applications during the first three months of 2011 to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File.
What’s most interesting about their findings is that the majority of fraudsters don’t even realise they’re impersonating a dead person. About 1.6 million would-be crooks inadvertently use deceased persons’ information on applications, ID Labs says, while 800,000 identities are purposefully stolen.
You can’t deny the logic behind the strategy: How’s someone going to challenge a credit card statement from six feet under?
More often than not, it’s the person’s family that winds up dealing with the problem after they’ve passed.
Here are a few ways to protect yourself
-It’s crucial to monitor their credit for at least a year, which you can do simply by requesting a free copy of their credit report from any of the three credit bureaus.
-Change all passwords and personal identification associated with bank accounts, mutual funds, credit, and debit cards.
-That goes double for their social media profiles, which are prime hunting grounds for ID thieves.
-If you want to take it a step further, Investing Answers suggests spouses cancel any joint banking accounts they may have after their partner dies.