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Identity thieves seem to devise new, high tech methods every day to steal identities and commit credit card fraud, both offline and in the virtual world. But a long-standing tactic that victimizes deceased individuals shows no signs of slowing down.
Quite simply, identity thieves acquire the Social Security numbers of the recently deceased and use them to open accounts, apply for credit, and assume the identity as long as possible before being discovered.
The damages from this practice affects surviving spouses and family members, making a difficult time due to the loss of a loved one even more difficult. Depending on the severity of the credit damage, surviving spouse benefits could be affected, and liens placed on bank accounts by creditors for incurred debt could create a financial mess for family members to piece together and restore.
The Identity Theft Protection and Timely Reporting Act of 2007 directs the Department of Commerce, through the National Technical Information Service, to provide a monthly updated Death Master List (prepared by the Social Security Administration) to each consumer reporting agency identified in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
The Identity Theft Protection and Timely Reporting Act amends the FCRA to require fraud alerts to be placed in the consumer files of each individual on the Death Master List by each of the consumer reporting agencies.
By increasing the timeliness of attaching fraud alerts to accounts of deceased individuals, damage due to identity theft crimes will be reduced and more easily remedied.