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How you can prevent identity theft, other fraud after you’re gone

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Estate Planning

The danger of becoming a victim of identity theft doesn’t end when you pass away. In fact, it can increase significantly. Some 2.5 million people become the victims of identity theft after they die. Those who steal the identities of deceased people are known as ghosters.

Ghosters take advantage of the fact that loved ones are often grieving and overwhelmed with all that needs to be done, and not taking steps to secure the decedent’s information and assets. If you’re preparing to put your estate plan in place, now is a good time to help those you leave behind prevent this from happening.

Limit the information in your obituary

Sites like make it easy to share someone’s obituary worldwide. They also provide a trove of information fraudsters can use to steal someone’s identity and locate and defraud loved ones by pretending to be from a life insurance company, financial institution or government agency. It’s best not to include things like relatives’ names and locations, your past employers, where you used to live and other information that can be misused. Remember, this isn’t meant to be your biography.

Make a list of parties to notify

A lot of fraud occurs because bank and credit card accounts aren’t closed or at least frozen immediately after someone’s death. Make a list of all of your accounts where your executor can locate it and easily notify banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions of your death. This will limit the chances of unauthorized activity on these accounts. 

You should also include the sources of any benefits, like the Social Security Administration, VA, and Medicare or Medicaid. If you have any life insurance policies, be sure to list those, along with the beneficiaries. Some popular scams involve calling relatives and telling them they’re a beneficiary on a life insurance policy to get their account information.

Be sure your executor can locate your IDs, credit cards and more

Stealing someone’s identity is often as easy as stealing a driver’s license or passport. Make sure your executor knows where to find your IDs, credit and debit cards and insurance cards so they can put them somewhere secure.

Estate planning is about more than putting the appropriate legal documents in place. It’s also important to help those administering your estate safeguard your assets until they can be distributed as you intend.