Preventing identity theft when you lose your loved one’s IDs and bank cards
By taking action, you can reduce the risk of identity theft, which potentially could complicate the probate process.
Reach out to the Social Security Administration to report the missing card.
Contact one of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) to place an initial fraud alert on your loved one’s credit.
If you haven’t already, alert all three agencies to your loved one’s death and put in a request to freeze their credit.
After a loved one dies, it is important to protect their confidential documents and personal information to prevent identity theft, since con artists often target recently deceased people, accessing their bank accounts and opening lines of credit in their name.
For this reason, if your loved one’s wallet or Social Security card has gone missing, you'll want to take steps to protect your loved one’s estate.
Dealing with more bureaucracy may be the last thing you’ll want to think of as you begin to settle your loved one’s affairs. But it is worth the effort to protect your loved one’s name and to avoid complications during probate if new debts appear in their name.
However, there is no need to panic. Take a deep breath and follow these steps to protect your loved one’s identity.
First actions to take
You can reach out to the Social Security Administration by phone: (800) 772-1213. Let them know that you’ve lost your loved one’s card.
Once you’ve done that, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the risk of identity theft.
First, place an initial fraud alert on your loved one’s credit report. You can do this with any one of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion).
An initial fraud alert is for when you believe you may be at risk for fraud or identity theft, but it has not happened yet. It will ask creditors to contact you to verify your identity when any action is taken in your name. Creating an initial fraud alert is free and lasts for one year with the option to renew it.
If you haven’t already, contact all three credit reporting agencies requesting a credit freeze for your loved one, asking them to flag their report as “deceased.” This blocks anyone from viewing their credit report and trying to open any new accounts or increase their credit limit.
Monitor bank activity and protect the estate
If you have access to your loved one’s financial statements, make sure to have that login information handy so that you can closely monitor all of the transactions, keeping an eye out for anything that doesn’t look right.
Make sure you’re aware of every person who has access to your loved one’s financial accounts and tell them to similarly keep an eye out for any unauthorized activity.
An identity protection service monitors your loved one’s accounts for you, and sends you alerts if there is any activity.
Lastly, you might consider an identity theft protection service.
This service monitors your loved one’s accounts for you, and sends you alerts if there is any activity.
If you’ve gone through these steps, rest assured that you’ve done all that you can to protect your loved one’s identity, and your family's peace of mind.
While this is an anxiety-provoking situation for sure, just because you can’t find your loved one’s Social Security card or wallet does not mean that someone is going to attempt to steal their identity.
Unfortunately, these types of thieves do prey on the recently deceased, but they will only be successful if no one is monitoring that person’s accounts and information.
Again, take a deep breath and know that you’re doing all you can, so that feel free to spend more time with family and friends, grieving your loss and honoring your loved one's memory.
You may be eligible for free bereavement support. Empathy can help with everything from funeral planning to estate administration, with step-by-step guidance and real-time expert support. Many people get free premium access to Empathy as a benefit with their life insurance claim. We partner with New York Life, Guardian Life Insurance Company, Bestow, Lemonade, and other leading carriers. When you make your life insurance claim, talk to your representative about whether Empathy is a benefit they offer.
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