Not even the dead are immune from identity theft and this particular type of identity theft is now on the rise. One way this occurs is when scammers merely check out the latest obituaries and then go to a free totally available data bank called the Death Master File maintained by the Social Security Administration. Using the Death Master File, the scammer is readily able to obtain the deceased person’s Social Security number which then can be used along with the information gained from the obituary to establish credit, make purchases or take out loans in the name of the deceased person. This can bring about great problems in the estate settlement process
Limit the amount of personal information contained in any obituary in order to not provide information exploitable by an identity thief. Also, the executor or personal representative of the estate should contact the major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax and notify them that the person is deceased and not to issue any further credit. All creditors, such as credit card companies of the deceased should also be notified of the death and the accounts closed as soon as possible.