Action line: Consumer Ghosting

Action Line

Millions of identities are stolen each year from dead Americans in what officials call “ghosting.”

All a scammer needs is a name, address, and birth date to illegally purchase a social security number on the black market. Scammers can get a hold of the deceased person’s information through social media, hospital records and funeral homes. This scam can go on for months due to families not checking the deceased person’s credit report.

Roseann Freitas, Marketplace Manager for BBB Hawaii, said “You have the information out there in the public with your obituary which usually includes the person’s name, when they were born and sometimes the address and really that’s all a scammer needs to get a social security number online.”

Once the information gets into the wrong hands, scammers can open up credit card accounts, take out loans and drain your loved one’s money.

Freitas said, “By the time they stop paying on all this and raked up all this debt and they come looking for the person they find the person is deceased. So now they’ve gotten away with probably millions of dollars over time that you can’t get back.”

She said, “Family members should check their loved one’s credit reports a few weeks after the person’s passing for any fraudulent activity. Then, a few months later, check on it again.”

Freitas also said, “Another way is to notify all of the credit card companies, the bank, any social security, all of them need notification of the passing so that information is noted in their account.”

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