Skip to main content

Save your identity

Link  to ESI program

By Mark Pribish

Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader


The senior population in the United States is a growing segment in our society

which is living longer and as a result is at risk of Senior ID Theft and Financial



According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) February 2010 Consumer Sentinel

Fraud and ID Theft Report (please see FTC link

/sentinel-annual-reports/sentinel-cy2009.pdf), national ID Theft and Fraud complaints by

consumers for ages 50 years and older were listed in the following order:

Consumer ID Theft Victims for 50 years of age and older:

50-59 years old – 15 Percent

60-69 years old – 8 Percent

70 years and older – 5 Percent

Consumer Fraud Victims for 50 years of age and older:

50-59 years old – 25 Percent

60-69 years old – 5 Percent

70 years and older – 5 Percent


In addition, most consumers think identity theft is related to email solicitations,

checks/credit cards and computer hacking - but very few people relate a family death (e.g.

a senior or a young child) to ID Theft.

In fact, the death of individuals has become a targeted prospect list for many ID Theft

thieves where ID theft and fraud involving a deceased relative is an emerging trend by

criminals who have known for years that assuming the identity of a deceased person can be

a profitable venture.


Examples of ID Theft and Fraud through a deceased relative can be identified through a

collection notice, a credit card bill, a notification from law enforcement, or a credit report

(whether the deceased was a senior or a child under age 19 as the above referenced FTC

report also found that seven percent of children age 19 and under became ID Theft victims

in 2009).


So what can be done? First, the Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a Death

Master File, and all three major credit bureaus and most financial institutions subscribe to

monthly updates. However, it can take up to 60 days for a name to make it onto the list.

Ideally, relatives and funeral directors notify the states of deaths and the states then

communicate said death to the SSA. When the SSA receives a death notice, they will then

flag the person's social security number as "inactive."


There is a great list of detailed preventive measures you can take from the Identity Theft

Resource Center (ITRC) found here:



In addition, the ITRC recommends that you avoid disclosing the person's date of birth or

mother's maiden name in obituaries and funeral notices, which are often scanned by

identity thieves.


To learn more about these threats and how to protect yourself and your family from

Identity Theft, you can read my past newsletters at the Merchants Identity Theft

Educational Website at



Share This