When someone steals your identity, that person uses your personal information for his or her own benefit. Typically this involves, for example, someone who finds your name, date of birth, Social Security Number, and other information in order to open a fraudulent account, such as a line of credit or cellular phone account.
If you’ve ever had your identity stolen you know how long it can take to repair the damage, but what you may not know is that identity theft can happen even to someone who is dead.
A recent report from ID analytics, an identity theft security firm, shows that identity thieves used the personal information of 2.5 million deceased Americans last year.
When a deceased person has his or her identity stolen, this won’t necessarily affect the family members, though it often does.
When, for example, an identity thief steals personal information of a deceased relative and uses it to open a new credit card account, the creditors may contact the family members in an attempt to recover any unpaid debt. Even though the family members are not obligated to pay the debt back, it can be an aggravating process to try to clear up the situation. Creditors are often very determined and may not be easily persuaded that the deceased person was subjected to identity theft.
In such a situation it typically falls to the estate administrator, a person often known as an executor or personal representative, to contact any government agency or creditor to notify them about the death and the suspected identity theft.