Identity theft is very common in today’s world. It is very easy for almost anyone to get all kinds of information about you either on the Internet, by calling and tricking you into disclosing information, or even from mail you might leave in your vehicle or home. A different kind of identity theft has been going on for many, many decades.

This is postmortem identity theft. That’s right, people can steal your identity even after you die. This can have disastrous consequences on your surviving family members when and if it is discovered.

How could something like this happen at all? Well, all it takes is an identity thief to read the obituaries and find someone who matches either what they look like or what their clients are looking for.

Once you have a name and birthday, all you have to do is go to city hall and get a death certificate. Social security numbers actually remain valid for a number of years after death due to paperwork pileup and overall population. This enables the use of that social security number for a long time with no worries.

The problems with postmortem identity theft arise when creditors notice this person is massing a lot of debt. There will be a lot of confusion between family members and creditors as they try to sort this all out.

If there are inheritances, the creditors may try to get paid from that lump of money before any family members receive their share. This is very unfair but that’s exactly what the identity thief wants.

By the time all this has happened, odds are the thief has moved on to another victim. To protect yourself, make sure to notify the Social Security Administration as well as all creditors and consumer reporting companies.

If they know this person is deceased, they won’t issue credit cards and notify you immediately if that social security number gets used.