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April 4, 2016

Personal Representative Problems: Safeguarding the Estate From Identity Theft, Part I

greenville SC estate planning lawyer

As a personal representative, you may feel that your duties are endless and know no bounds. In many ways, that statement is rather true, however, we hope to make that job easier for you. While it may not be a scenario many think about, identity theft is a fast growing problem for the estates of deceased people. While it may not sound like a common scenario, it happens more often than you may think, and the consequences can be steep for you, as the personal representative. A probate attorney can help you with your loved one’s estate to ensure it is administered as the decedent wanted it to be and to safeguard it from any party who wishes to improperly diminish its assets. In Part I of this article, we will discuss what identity theft of a dead person looks like and how it can easily happen to any of us, if we are unsuspecting victims.  


Why Would Anyone Steal a Dead Person’s Identity?


It may seem like a seldom committed crime, however, identity theft of a dead person often proves beneficial for scammers. This quickly rising pattern is called “ghosting.” The most obvious reason scammers target dead people for identity theft reasons is that the activities are not likely to be reported as quickly as if the person were alive. A dead person does not check their credit report for incorrect entries, so some of the ways that people usually monitor their identities are not suitable for tracking a dead person’s identity.


How Can a Scammer Steal a Dead Person’s Identity and What Can They Do With It?


When someone dies, notice of their death is often posted on an obituary and scammers often start there and then look to probate records for corresponding names and address. From there, the scammer usually defrauds credit lenders into believing that the deceased individual is applying for credit after purchasing important information like identification numbers and credit  history information.  


After a scammer has stolen the identity of a dead person, they can tap into existing accounts or they open new ones for fraudulent activities. However, the most important aspect would be opening credit accounts. From credit cards to purchasing property, a scammer can use the information they obtained to get, and default on, credit in the name of the deceased.


Working With an Attorney


The responsibilities that a personal representative has are vast and it is so easy to become overwhelmed at the possibility of knowing that the estate you are working so hard on can be compromised. However, in addition to educating you about all the possible risks of identity theft for the estates of the deceased, the Anderson Law Firm can provide the representation you need to take the pressure off of you. Contact our Greenville probate attorneys today if you need help administering an estate in South Carolina. Our seasoned attorneys have the skills and experience to help you avoid identity theft and other perils that come along with the probate process.