Thieves target the dead for ID theft

May 01, 2012|Eileen Ambrose

You can be dead and still be a victim in this world. A new report by ID Analytics find that thieves target the dead, using their Social Security numbers to get credit cards, cellphones and other services.

The company says it compared the names, Social Security numbers and birth date on 100 million credit applications in the first quarter of last year with Social Security’s Death Master File to find out if applicants were using the information of the dead.

The findings:

—    132,000 applications had some deliberate manipulations of Social Security numbers

—    66,000 were straight up-and-up ID theft of the dead —  the person had died months before the application was made.

—    172,000 applications involved the Social Security numbers of those who died not long after the application, so some theft is suspected.

All total, ID Analytics says the identity of nearly 2.5 million dead Americans are used to apply for credit products and services annually.

ID Anayltics' chief technology officer Stephen Coggeshall recommends that survivors to monitor a deceased's identity for at least a year after the theft to make sure the information isn't being used by thieves.

Of course, if it's this widespread, maybe businesses can do their part and start checking on the identities of their customers to make sure they aren't thieves. It always seems the onus falls on the consumer.


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