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In this modern world of instantaneous communication, information overload and “shared information” there are a growing number of scams that seek to snare the unwary. Identity theft is an ever-growing concern. A scammer can hijack your identity and create all sorts of problems for you immediately, or at some future date beneficiaries. The risk of identity theft does not end at death. In fact, stealing the identity of the recently deceased is a real problem. You can minimize the risk of a loved one’s identity falling prey to an identity thief by monitoring your accounts, investigating inquiries that you did not initiate, and alerting these agencies when a death occurs.
q Social Security Administration
q Veteran’s Administration (if the decedent formerly served in the military)
q Defense Finance and Accounting Service (military service retiree receiving benefits)
q Office of Personnel Management (if the decedent is a former federal civil service employee)
q U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service (If the decedent was not a U.S. citizen)
q State Department of Motor Vehicles (If the decedent had a driver’s license)
q Credit card and merchant card companies
q Banks, savings and loan associations and credit unions
q Mortgage companies and lenders
q Financial planners and stock brokers
q Pension providers
q Life insurers and annuity companies
q Health, medical and dental insurers
q Disability insurers
q Automotive insurer
q Mutual benefit companies
q All three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
q Any memberships held by the decedent (ex: health clubs, professional associations, clubs, library etc.)
Contacting those on this list will reduce the chance that an identity thief can initiate fraudulent actions that can make your life miserable. Imagine going to the bank after losing a spouse only to find out that your dear husband has cleared out the bank account! … a week after he died. By being aware of these kinds of identity theft schemes at a difficult time can help save aggravation, time and prevent financial loss. Don’t’ be afraid to ask a trusted family member or friend to help you with this list, there are many who want to help, but don’t know exactly what they can do to assist.
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