How To Protect Your Deceased Loved One’s Identity

Losing a loved one is a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching event that can turn your world upside down. Sadly, many criminals exploit this terrible event and steal your deceased loved one’s identity. In fact, the identities of almost 2.5 million deceased Americans have been stolen and used to fraudulently open credit card accounts, apply for loans and get cellphone or other services, according to AARP.

The predators of this world troll for personal information from hospitals, funeral homes, and/or obituaries. With a name, address and birth date, criminals can purchase your deceased loved one’s Social Security number for a nominal fee.

Don’t let this happen to your loved one. Here are some important tips from an estate administration perspective to help protect against identify theft of a deceased loved one:

1. Notify the three major credit reporting agencies right away and notify them of your loved one’s passing.

It usually takes one-to-six months for the three major credit reporting agencies to be notified of a death through the state where your deceased loved one resided. However, once you have the death certificate, you can proactively contact the credit bureaus as soon as possible. The “big 3” credit reporting agencies include Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

2. Send official copies of the death to any other company that had a financial relationship with your deceased loved one.

Take the time to contact each creditor, insurance company, bank or credit union, brokerage house, the Social Security Administration and any pension issuer, according to

3. Cancel your deceased loved one’s driver’s license.

Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state where your loved one resided and supply the Department with a copy of your deceased loved one’s death certificate. A driver’s license number is a common method of identification used to open new accounts or take out loans. Cancelling your deceased loved one’s driver’s license will help prevent this from happening.

Taking these three steps does not guarantee your deceased loved one’s identity won’t be stolen, but it will make it much more difficult for any criminals to steal your deceased loved one’s identity.