When a loved one passes away, a crucial step in minimizing the risk of identity theft is to notify the proper entities, such as government and credit reporting agencies, banks, and creditors of your loved one’s death.
To expedite notification, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) recommends that you initially make contact with government and credit reporting agencies, banks, and creditors by telephone followed by written confirmation. Many of the governmental agencies and financial institutions require the decedent’s social security number, a (sometimes a certified) copy of the death certificate, and, if you are the personal representative (executor) of the estate, verification of your appointment by the probate court. It is imperative that you retain ALL copies of the notices/correspondence you send to these agencies. In some instances, if you are dealing with a funeral home, it may notify some of these agencies for you. The funeral director can provide you with the list of agencies and/or institutions it notified of the decedent’s death.
The NFDA suggests the following agencies be notified of your loved one’s passing:
- Social Security Administration
- Veteran’s Administration (if the decedent formerly served in the military)
- Defense Finance and Accounting Service (military service retiree receiving benefits)
- Office of Personnel Management (if the decedent is a former federal civil service employee)
- U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service (If the decedent was not a U.S. citizen)
- State Department of Motor Vehicles (If the decedent had a driver’s license)
- Credit card and merchant card companies
- Banks, savings and loan associations and credit unions
- Mortgage companies and lenders
- Financial planners and stock brokers
- Pension providers
- Life insurers and annuity companies
- Health, medical and dental insurers
- Disability insurers
- Automotive insurer
- Mutual benefit companies
- All three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
- Any memberships held by the decedent (ex: health clubs, professional associations, clubs, library etc.)
You can list the decedent on the Deceased Do Not Contact List, maintained by the Direct Marketing Association, which is a service that removes the decedent from all direct mailing lists.
An estate planning attorney can assist you in creating a highly effective estate plan, which can reduce not only the risk of identity theft, but also the hardships for your family.