Millions of Dead People Get Identities Stolen

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graveyard scareBy Blake Ellis

Just because you're dead doesn't mean you can't be robbed.

Identity thieves steal the personal information of about 2.4 million deceased Americans each year, according to a new report from fraud prevention firm ID Analytics. That amounts to a rate of more than 2,000 thefts per day.

Using these stolen identities, criminals typically apply for credit cards, cell phones and anything else requiring a credit check, the report found.

About 800,000 deceased Americans get their identities stolen intentionally, and another 1.6 million identities are stolen by chance -- when an identity thief uses a Social Security number that happens to match that of a deceased individual, for example.

Lenders are typically the main victims when thieves use identities of deceased people to apply for credit products. But surviving family members should also be careful, said Stephen Coggeshall, chief technology officer at ID Analytics.

"Surviving family members can also be the victims of this identity fraud as they are left to manage the estates of their deceased loved ones," he said. "It's important for people to monitor their deceased family member's identities for at least one year."

To determine how many deceased people get their identities stolen each year, ID Analytics collected the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers on 100 million credit applications.

It then calculated how many of these applications used information that was associated with deceased individuals listed in the Social Security Administration's Death Master File -- a government database of deceased Americans.

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