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How to Protect the Deceased from Identity Fraud

February 4, 2019 • Posted By • Trusts and Estates

The executor of an estate can take steps to reduce the risk of decedent’s identity being used to commit fraud. The executor should take two (2) specific steps concerning decedent’s Death Certificate. First, an executor should protect the Death Certificate as if it were a Social Security Card. Second, the executor should request at least twelve (12) original copies to show proof of death when closing accounts


Further steps can and should be taken to protect decedent’s identity. First and foremost, the executor should request a credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies. This will give the executor a list of the accounts belonging to decedent that need to be closed. Then, Executor should request a flag to be placed on the deceased’s file. The flag should read, “Deceased: do not issue credit.” Also, indicate that the executor of the estate must be notified in the event someone attempts to open a fraudulent account under decedent’s name.


Finally, the executor should notify institutions concerning the death of the decedent and the subsequent closing of accounts and/or benefits. Institutions that should be notified consist of the Social Security Administration, insurance companies (i.e. auto, health, life, etc.), professional listing agencies (i.e. bar association, trade certifications, medical association, union affiliation, etc.), and membership programs (i.e. video rental services, public library, fitness club, etc.). Also, Veterans Administration should be notified if the decedent was formerly a member of the military. As well, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) should be notified if the decedent had a driver’s license or a state ID card. Similarly, Immigration services should be notified if the decedent was not a U.S. citizen.


All these steps are beneficial and important in protecting decedent’s identity from being used to commit fraud.