Identity Theft

Sep 2015

rick -2   I have written many times in the past about identity theft and how it is important for all of us to protect ourselves.  Identity theft is a rapidly growing crime and in reality, the authorities don’t have the means to stop it.  That is why it is important for all of us to be aware and do what is necessary to protect ourselves.  That being said, I just read an article that said that identity thieves are targeting two new areas.  These areas are newborns and those who recently passed away.


Newborns are a hot area because the thieves know that their chances of being caught are extremely slim. Since newborns don’t have a credit history or other types of financial history, they are starting with a clean slate and as a result, they can do irreparable damage.  Identity thieves are also targeting those who are recently deceased.  Particularly during the initial period when the person passes on, but before financial institutions and government entities are notified, they can do serious harm which could impact the estate and potentially can cause problems for beneficiaries.


The question is, what can you do to prevent identity thieves from targeting a newly deceased person or a newborn?  In reality, there’s nothing you can do that will offer 100% protection; however, there are some steps you can take that will hopefully reduce the chances that your loved ones become subject to identity theft.


For someone who recently passed away, one of the things you can do to protect the deceased is to notify various entities of the death.  For example, it would make sense to send a copy of the death certificate to the deceased’s financial institutions, brokerage houses, government agencies and even credit bureaus.  The Social Security Administration, through their death master file, usually will notify financial institutions; however, we all know that the government doesn’t’ always act in a timely manner.  Therefore, sometimes there is a lag between the death and when financial institutions are notified.  Thus, it may make sense for you to notify them directly.  In addition, just like you would do for yourself, you also need to review any financial statements from banks or other financial institutions to make sure that everything is in order.


For newborns, it is more difficult.  After all, the newborn doesn’t have any financial history or any financial accounts.  However, there are things you can do.  I recommend that you obtain a copy of your own credit report and do the same for a newborn.  A few months after birth, it may make sense to pull a credit report to make sure that no one applied for credit in the newborn’s name.  In addition, you should pay particular attention to any letters you receive for the newborn from banks and other institutions.  It may be a sign that an identity thief is at work.


I wish there was one sure thing you could do that would give you 100 % protection from identity theft; unfortunately, it doesn’t exist.  In fact, you can do all the right things and still find that your identity has been compromised.  That’s just a fact of life.  However, that doesn’t mean that since we can’t 100 % protect ourselves we should let our guards down.  We can’t afford to.  In addition, not only can you not afford to let your guard down when it comes to protecting yourself, you also have to keep your guard up in protecting all your loved ones, including newborns and those that are recently departed.


Good luck!



Rick is a fee-only financial advisor.  His website is  If you would like Rick to respond to your questions, please email Rick at