Identity Theft Is Not Just For The Living

Thursday, March 26, 2015 2:10 pm, Posted by Absolute Destruction

If you’ve recently experienced a death in the family and are responsible for their estate, then you should be cautious with their account. Many thieves are turning to the deceased to finance their schemes, using their Social Insurance Numbers and Social Security Numbers (SSNs) and other personal details to open fraudulent accounts.

According to a recent study by ID Analytics, the identities of almost 2.5 million deceased Americans are stolen each year. Their findings were based on data gathered from financial institutions and cell phone providers across the United States. Contact information and SSNs used on application forms were cross-referenced with those listed in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) — a file that compiles the SSN of Americans who have passed away. Researchers found that 800,000 of the documented cases of theft involved opening lines of credit and mobile phone accounts.

To avoid your late family member from becoming a statistic, proper documentation of their death must be acquired. Obtaining a death certificate is the first step towards preventing identity theft of your late loved one. This document acts as conclusive proof of death, as it is dependent on a signed statement issued by a doctor, nurse, or coroner within 48 hours of the death. It’s an essential record to have as it’s the only way to cancel personal identification cards (like health cards, SIN cards, and provincial licences) as well as other accounts, registrations, and documents.

In order to cancel or substitute the benefactor of pensions and benefits, you must present Service Canada with a copy of the death certificate; more importantly, by informing Service Canada of the death of your loved one, the deceased’s SIN will be recorded and flagged so that it’s only used for estate liquidation purposes.

Unfortunately, it can take some time before the provincial and federal governments properly document a death. Likewise, it may be a while before you can close bank accounts and investments completely. Criminals take advantage of this time before financial records are updated; in fact, they hope that you postpone informing financial and government institutions because the longer you take to flag or cancel their accounts, the longer these criminals have to appropriate other identities.

If you’ve been lucky enough to inherit the deceased’s house, you’ll have received more than just family heirlooms and real estate; you’ll also come into possession of confidential papers, which can include bank statements, credit card bills, utility invoices, and any other financial statements that list their contact details and account numbers. This information, when not flagged, is crucial for thieves who plan on opening up false accounts.

Anything that lists the deceased’s contact information, SIN, or other account numbers cannot be thrown into the garbage. Curb-side garbage collection is never a secure way of disposing of these documents, as anyone — from the moment you put the bin out to the time it reaches the landfill — can have access to them. Proper disposal of your loved one’s private information should involve a professional shredding and purge service like that offered by our expert removal teams.

Our one-time shredding appointment offers the best solution to your confidential information disposal. Its processes don’t just clear the papers from the house, but guarantees a complete destruction of the material so that no information is retrievable. And it’s set to your own schedule, as containers and bags are made available before a mobile truck comes to shred the sensitive records. You can go through your loved one’s home at your discretion, making sure you can grieve as you purge the necessary documents.

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