Preventing Identity Theft When Your Loved One Dies

Thieves are always looking for ways to enrich themselves at the expense of others, and the bereaved are no exception.  In fact, thieves often use obituaries to target homes when they know family members will be attending funeral services.  To prevent this from occurring, family members can ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to house sit during the services.

On August 3, 2017, the National Funeral Director’s Association issued an alert about a NEW scam involving possible identity theft against the deceased and their families.  This time, after reading the obituary, scammers filed a change of address form to have the deceased’s mail forwarded to an address in another state.  As it takes about two weeks for the change of address to take effect and the mail to start to be forwarded, it took some time for the family to discover that this had occurred.  However, the Post Office provided them the bogus change of address form.  Unfortunately, there is no telling what information the thief accessed during this time.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?  If the deceased lived alone, then the executor or administrator of the estate should promptly alert the post office and file USPS Form 3575 to forward the mail to another address.  Form 3575 does not require the executor or administrator to include any probate court documents confirming the appointment, but does require the individual to certify on the form that he or she has been appointed.  False claims on the form constitute a criminal act.  Doing this immediately can reduce the risk of identity theft and provide the bereaved family with one less thing about which to worry.

You can find USPS Form 3575 here: