Skip to comments.Death Certificate Used to Steal Woman's Identity
Posted on 04/10/2014 6:01:55 AM PDT by xzins
Identity theft, one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, can include credit card fraud, government identity theft and medical identity theft.
It can also include stealing the identity of someone who has died, as Ohio fraud victim Lindsey Reichheld recently discovered.
While the family of Amy Reichheld mourned her death, the identity thieves got busy. Their strategy was to simply spend $10 to purchase a copy of her death certificate.
When Reichheld inquired about who was behind the purchase, she said a town official told her, "Anyone can walk in and they don't keep track of it."
"I said 'really?' and they said 'Yes, it's public record,'" Reichheld recalled.
She felt helpless when she learned that thieves had so easily stolen Amy's identity.
"Her death might be public record, but all that information you're handing out for $10 is not public record," Reichheld said.
Most death certificates include full names of the deceased, their address and date of birth.
In Reichheld's case, the thieves targeted almost a dozen victims and walked away with tens of thousands of dollars.
U.S. Postal Inspector Brian Evans says he learned of the scam after an alert town clerk called about a large number of requests for death certificates.
"The bad guy in this case went to the obituary page in the local paper, realized that someone was deceased and that they could access their death certificate," he said.
"Once they accessed that information on the death certificate they went to the postal service, filed a change of address form and got the mail diverted from the deceased individual to their residence," he explained.
Evans says the thieves were able to make changes on credit cards and drain bank accounts. The victims' families lost thousands of dollars and in one case, couldn't pay for the funeral.
"It's a fairly devious and smart way to steal someone's identity," Riechheld said, "because Amy's not there to open that mail and say, 'What? I didn't order this credit card! What are you talking about?'"
Postal inspectors say families who have lost a loved one should notify credit bureaus as soon as a death certificate is issued.
They should also limit the amount of personal details in any public obituary and cancel the deceased person's driver license.
It boggles the mind that this is legal, that the person doesn't have to prove a family relationship.
In my job and several times in personal life, I have several occasions each year to request death certificates. I have found that they are NOT easy to obtain, and the requestor needs to document his or her relationship with the decedent and/or document the reason for needing the death certificate. I am sure that various jurisdictions handle requests in different ways, but I don’t think it is universal that “anyone can walk in and request one”, and receive one.
Yes, identity theft is becoming rampant where any published personal details can be used to undermine personal security . . .unless, of course you are of a protected class-protected by the doctrine of polictical correctness.
Ever read an obituary or burial details of a Muslim terrorist? Yes, the successful shahid is celebrated by fellow wannabes. But have you ever read an obituary of a deceased felon who may be or is suspected of being a revert who died in the act of jihad?
Take for instance Jeffrey Tyrone Savage. He is the shooter, now deceased, who disarmed the female sailor and murdered another male sailor at the Norfolk Naval base last month. Savage murdered his best friend, was a convicted felon who was potentially exposed to prison dawa and for which I cannot locate a visible obituary posted online.
One article I read mentioned his family members relief that he recently turned his life around and resided with his wife and children, one of his own from a previous relationship.
Begs the question, was this remarkable 180 in behavior due to a relatively recent conversion to Islam (aka reversion)?
Any freeper have a link which reveals Muslim obituaries, or terminology to search for details of such?
My mother’s identity was stolen from hospice employees who gave the information to their gansta boyfriends who used her identification to buy two crack houses and who knows how many credit cards.
The next time I'm in Hawaii I may just wander down to the records office and buy a death certificate. It's public record, right? Maybe I'll ask for a birth certificate too.
They're soft-pedaling this... MOST also include Social Security Numbers!