Memorial Day & ID Theft Using Info Of Deceased

Every year since probably my first year on this world I’ve visited cemetaries on the Sunday right before Memorial Day. My parents’ reasoning was that we could get the graves and headstones decorated (Memorial Day is also known as Decoration Day) so that those visiting on Monday would see them. Probably where I got my habit of always arriving to meetings and events WAY too early! 🙂
This past Sunday my family drove my father out to three cemetaries to once more continue this tradition…

We visited my mother’s grave, who died much too young after suffering too much for much too long, all five of my grandparents buried in the area, and several others…
My granddad (my father’s father) survived WWI as a horse soldier, only to die of a heart attack, at 29 years old, after returning to his farm after the war. He had his heart attack after running, carrying buckets of water from the well, fighting a barn fire and trying to save horses that were in the barn…
My great great grandmother Carrie (on my mother’s side) has a great story I want and need to write some day…she went with her husband from their Kansas farm in a covered wagon to California during the gold rush with 6 small children. She got fed up with my great great grandfather (whose first name was never uttered again) spending all his time panning for gold and never getting anything, and came back to Kansas two years later, alone in a covered wagon as part of a wagon train, with her now 7 small children. There are photos of her posing with the kids in front of her sod dirt-floor home, tall wildflowers and grass growing on the roof, her tall shotgun in one hand and holding a solomn toddler on her hip with her other hand. I loved hearing my great grandfather (he lived to 105 and died when I was in early elementary school) talk about his mom and that sod house; he said Carrie shot numerous snakes in their house, along with deer and rabbits in the nearby woods, that they ate. He said his dad never returned from California, and his mom raised him and his siblings all by herself. He said she did her own dentistry with empty metal shotgun shell casings, jamming them around the offending bad tooth and then breaking the tooth out with as much root as possible. OW! Can’t validate any of the tales, but great grandpa sure stuck to the same details every time he told his childhood stories.
After visiting the cemetaries, during the 1 1/2 hour drive home I discussed with my sons about how criminals have often used the personal information of the deceased to commit fraud, identity theft, and other crimes.
I tweeted about this on Twitter ( when I got home and then did a bit of research into extent of identity theft of deceased; it seems to be even more prevalent than during Tammany Hall!
Here are just a few of the recent news reports I found on this topic:
Identity Theft On The Rise
It’s up to the deceased’s family to alert SSA that the person is dead, or if suspicious activity is occurring with the deceased’s identity. Now, really, how many folks would know his?
Stolen lives
Identity theft of the deceased is an increasing crime.
Women more affected by ID fraud, study finds
According to the research, 28% of women are affected by identity theft versus 21% of men.
Trio indicted for fraud in health-care scheme
Three people stole the identities of the deceased, incarcerated, and hospitalized.
Man posed as dead brother to get drugs
Sadly I seem to read about this type of identity theft of the deceased way too often; by their own family members. Yet another of many similar recent reports…
Posing as dead sister in scam draws 5 years
Usually the criminals try to justify stealing the identities of the dead because they perceive there is no victim.
Besides being crimes, it also is a sad thing to try and make someone innocent and unable to defend themselves look guilty of doing crimes, sometimes forever damaging their legacies, and hurting their surviving relatives and loved ones, who are very much victims.
The deceased are entitled to keep their good names along with memories of what they actually did. Their relatives and loved ones are entitled to not have some crook steal those memories and not have to fight to clear them of the lies and crimes.

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