A new study reports that about 2.5 million Americans of a unique group are the victims of identity theft every year. What makes these victims different than the millions more Americans who are victimized by identity theft is the fact that these people are deceased. Identity thieves can use the information from deceased victims to open fraudulent accounts just as they would with a living person’s information. While you cannot guarantee that identity theft will never happen, there are steps you can take to ensure that thieves will not use a deceased person’s information.
Tip 1: Guard an elderly or sick persons information.
Identity theft can easily occur because the wrong people have access to sensitive data. If you know a family member is going to have an extended hospital or nursing home stay, you can ask that person to use a financial power of attorney to grant someone else the ability to manage their finances. This way, you can ensure that sensitive financial information is controlled and not viewed by those who may use it to commit identity theft.
Tip 2: Appoint an experienced executor.
After a person dies, all creditors must submit a claim to recover debts within a specific timeframe. An experienced executor will know how to evaluate any claims made and refuse those claims that were based on identity theft. An inexperienced executor should consider hiring a probate attorney or estate planning attorney to assist with the process.
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