Update from Ralph Bristol Morning News - BBB Middle Tennessee can be heard Fridays at 7:35am on the Ralph Bristol Nashville Morning News, WTN 99.7 (FM Radio)
BBB Warns of GHOSTING…
a growing form of Identity Theft
Each April and October, BBB hosts community Shred Days to Protect your Identity in 6 locations throughout Middle Tennessee. The whole idea is to securely destroy, free of charge, financial documents that can be used in Identity Theft.
Despite all the secure shredding, a growing segment of Identity Theft is called GHOSTING.
How does it happen?
Ghosting begins when an individual dies and the obituary is published in a newspaper
- Full name and birth name
- Home Town
- Mothers Maiden Name
- Date of Birth
- Nearest Relatives & relationships to the deceased
- Last Place of Employment
The FBI reports that thieves take all this information and searches the deceased’s social security number at the Social Security Administrations Death Master Index...
How much does the search cost? Absolutely free
With this information, Identity Thieves have everything needed to set up new accounts, all while the family is still grieving.
What can you do about it?
- Limit the information listed in the obituary column – in this case less is more
- Send copies of death certificates to:
-all three credit reporting agencies
-credit card companies
- Place a “deceased alert” on all accounts – this is especially important if they’re going to stay open until probate is completed.
- When closing accounts (including utilities, phone, cable, rental services, etc.), ask them to tag the account as “account closed – holder is deceased.” That way, the account will be flagged as permanently closed. Closing an account may seem final enough, but it’s not. All paid services want you to continue service, so they won’t question a reopen request unless the word “deceased” is on the file.
- Report the death to Social Security. If you let it go through normal processes, it can take months – in that time, an identity thief will have set up hundreds of accounts in your loved one’s name.
- Cancel the deceased Driver’s License through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, so that duplicates will not be issued
Since deceased people don’t check their credit, BBB recommends that you request a copy of their credit report from one of the three credit reporting agencies about a month after you’ve taken the above steps – just to double check their account status.
You might be thinking, “Why do I care? It can’t come back on me because the person is dead.”
Well, by using your loved one’s information, ID thieves can take yours as well. Remember, your name is in the paper too, listing how you’re related to everyone in your family, your probable home town, and your approximate age. At the very least, it will cause the surviving family members stress when new bills arrive at the house along with collection calls.
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When in Doubt, remember to check with BBB for information on
businesses you can TRUST by visiting
The BBB of Middle Tennessee, Inc. was founded in 1961 as a non-profit Tennessee organization serving 38 counties in Middle Tennessee and 7 counties in Southern Kentucky. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at nashville.bbb.org.
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