By: Jeffrey Lapin

Dealing with the death of a relative is hard enough. Family members do not need the additional stress of having to deal with having the identity of their deceased relative stolen. Remember, family members are not responsible for the debts of their deceased relatives, unless they had specifically agreed to be. In addition, the estate of the deceased is not responsible for these types of fraudulent debts.


Here are seven (7) things you should take as soon as possible to protect and guard the deceased’s identity from being stolen:

  • Do not include too much personal information in the obituary. Information such as maiden name, address, occupation, birth date and names of relatives may be enough for an identity thief to start setting up false accounts.
  • Obtain several certified copies of the death certificate. Many institutions will require a certified copy and will not accept a photocopy.
  • Notify the Social Security Administration about the person’s death, both in writing and by calling 800-772-1213.
  • Notify every business or company in which the deceased had an account and inform them about the death. This includes, but is not limited to: banks; mortgage company; and credit card companies.
  • Notify all insurance companies about the death including life, health, homeowner and automobile insurance companies.
  • Notify your state department of motor vehicles to cancel any driver’s license and prevent duplicates from being issued.
  • Secure all documents with financial or personal information.

Most if not all of these items can be done by any family member. There are many others that require a personal representative (someone else in charge of the deceased’s estate). Some of these other things include obtaining a copy of person’s credit reports, to identify all open accounts, from the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax; Experian and TransUnion.


When notifying companies, business, institutions and governmental agencies, you should call and follow up with a letter. Here is some sample language for a letter you could use to notify these entities:

Sir or Madam:

Please be aware that on (date of death) that (name of deceased) died. Enclosed you will find a copy of his/her death certificate. To prevent any risk of identity theft, please place an official death notice on file.If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.

Thank you.

(Your name)

In most cases, the personal representative will have to actually close any accounts and determine what should happen to the funds or other assets in the account.


Identity theft is growing each year especially for the deceased. Protect yourself, your family and your deceased loved from identity theft by following the above advice. It is much easier to stop identity theft from the start than having to try and deal with it after it has occurred.



Lapin Law OfficesLapin Law Offices represents Nebraskans harassed, abused, misled or provided false information by debt collectors. If this happened to you contact us at 402-421-8033 or through our websites: Lapin Law Offices or We offer a free consultation and do not charge an attorney fee unless we collect money for you.