Identity theft is very common in today's world. It is
very easy for almost anyone to get all kinds of
information about you either on the
Internet, by calling and tricking you into disclosing
information, or even from mail you might leave in your
vehicle or home. A different kind of identity theft
has been going on for many, many decades.
This is postmortem identity theft. That's right,
people can steal your identity even after you die.
This can have disastrous consequences on your
surviving family members when and if it is discovered.
How could something like this happen at all? Well, all
it takes is an identity thief to read the obituaries
and find someone who matches either what they look
like or what their clients are looking for.
Once you have a name and birthday, all you have to do
is go to city hall and get a death certificate. Social
security numbers actually remain valid for a number of
years after death due to paperwork pileup and overall
population. This enables the use of that social
security number for a long time with no worries.
The problems with postmortem identity theft arise when
creditors notice this person is massing a lot of debt.
There will be a lot of confusion between family
members and creditors as they try to sort this all
If there are inheritances, the creditors may try to
get paid from that lump of money before any family
members receive their share. This is very unfair but
that's exactly what the identity thief wants.
By the time all this has happened, odds are the thief
has moved on to another victim. To protect yourself,
make sure to notify the Social Security Administration
as well as all creditors and consumer reporting
If they know this person is deceased, they won't issue
credit cards and notify you immediately if that social
security number gets used.