What is it?
Theft that targets a deceased person identity, also called “Ghosting”, is the criminal act of someone using the personal details of the person for their own unlawful gain, usually financial.
It occurs when a deceased’s personal identifiable information is stolen to commit fraudulent acts such as:
- tax payer ID theft
- account takeover
- medical ID/services theft
- driver’s licence theft
- apply for new credit cards and loans,
- secure employment
- home utility or telecom services
The deceased are targeted, because these thefts are less likely to be identified early and stopped; therefore it is imperative the right steps are taken to ensure all aspects of a deceased’s identity are handled in the proper manner.
How does it occur?
Primarily in two ways.
Firstly via the letter box. Typically a deceased person gets 110 pieces of direct mail in the first 12 months following their death. Criminals identify recently deceased and then target deceased’s homes that more often than not are empty. They then steal the direct mail pieces left in the unattended letterboxes so as to start the fraud process. And as direct mail is not often regarded as a valuable item worthy of as theft, it goes unnoticed until credit card bills start appearing out of the blue.
Secondly, via online. In today’s social media driven world, people are inadvertently posting more and more personal information online. Be this Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, leaving an ever growing online presence. As such, it is much easier to find out ones personal information such as date of birth, email and home address etc. Criminals are trawling these sites to lift these pieces of information and then build a picture of the deceased so as to be able to impersonate them and implement the fraud.