After the most immediate duties associated with the death of your loved one are completed–contacting friends and relatives and planning the deceased's funeral–there's a considerable amount of administrative detail involved in tying up your loved one's affairs. Identity thieves relish the opportunity to acquire access to your loved one's personal information, especially if he had good credit. Reporting the death to the three nationwide credit reporting agencies is important to preserve your loved one's good name after passing.
Obtain additional copies of the deceased's death certificate–at least three, but it's advisable that you obtain more. MSN Money's Liz Pulliam Weston points out that not only will you need these to report the death to credit reporting agencies, but to apply for life insurance benefits or close your loved one's banking accounts.
Report it in writing. The financial experts at Credit.com state that in your letter to the credit reporting agencies, you should include your name and contact information in addition to the name, Social Security number and last address of your deceased loved one, as well as his dates of birth and death. In your letter, specify how you are related to the deceased. (Weston notes that the person in charge of taking care of a loved one's affairs after death is often the spouse or an adult child–whoever is the executor of the deceased's will or appointed as administrator by the court.) In your letter, request that the credit reporting agency refrain from issuing credit in your loved one's name.
Put it all together. Your correspondence should include your letter and a copy of the deceased's credit report. Make copies of everything mailed to the credit reporting agency so you can better maintain your own records.
Mail the notification certified, return receipt requested. Credit.com states this is the best way to ensure that your correspondence is received and documented. In January 2010, the mailing addresses for the three major credit reporting agencies was as follows:
Equifax P.O. Box 105873 Atlanta, GA 30348 (800) 685-1111
Experian P.O. Box 2104 Allen, TX 75013-2104 (888) 397-3742
TransUnion P.O. Box 1000 Chester, PA 19022 (800) 916-8800
Follow up by notifying individual creditors. Credit.com states you can call the individual issuers to inform them of your loved one's passing, but always follow up in writing, using the same procedure that you did when notifying the credit reporting agencies.
You may want to acquire copies of your loved one's credit reports at the time you notify them of the death. MSN Money points out this can be very helpful in making sure that you're aware of all open accounts. Also helpful is notifying the Social Security Administration after a loved one's passing so his number can be flagged as "inactive." Credit reporting agencies receive updates from the SSA, but there's often a delay between the time of death and when the agency receives this information.
When ordering copies of your loved one's credit report, go through the official website approved to provide you a free copy of these reports: AnnualCreditReport.com. Identity thieves scour the obituaries to obtain a list of potential marks. MSN Money advises paring down the obituary and leaving out as much personal information as possible.
- Igor Dimovski/iStock/Getty Images