Can Identity theft of the deceased actually happen?

Identity Theft Illustration

You probably know the basics of identity theft: it can occur if fraudsters have enough information about someone such as name, date of birth, current or even previous addresses, bank details etc  and use it to their own ends.

This is one reason that if you’re leaving a property vacant for some time it’s essential to have adequate security in place and even consider removing documents containing personal details.

However, you might not know that identity theft can take place whether the fraud victim is alive OR deceased.

Sources fraudsters might use include information from simply a letter or a local paper’s obituary – with this they might have enough to access a bank account, or get credit online. It has even been known for criminals to look in newspapers for death notices and then apply for a birth certificate in that name.

Of course, there are more and more safeguards in place to prevent this sort of thing happening – and for unauthorised use of the information – but clever fraudsters can still often make use of the information.

So if you leave a property vacant, it might be wise to take the RAD approach – Remove All Documents.

Other things to do after the passing of a loved one is to contact all banks and credit card institutions so that they can mark the account accordingly. This means that the accounts will become almost instantly inactive and the only people that can access remaining funds are the family. In the case of identity theft this means that unauthorised payments or withdrawals can’t be made.

Useful links

The following websites have more detailed information – we hope you find them useful.

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ID

http://www.identitytheft.org.uk

http://www.aboutidentitytheft.co.uk

An interesting article about identity theft in general can also be found on the Which? website:
https://www.which.co.uk/news/2017/09/id-theft-how-bank-account-fraudsters-may-steal-your-identity/

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