A person’s footprint is bigger than we realise. During the course of our lives we are now interacting with and have a “relationship” with a greater number of entities than ever before. These range from household weekly and monthly bills, financial accounts, telephone contracts (both mobile and home) to entertainment and subscriptions based relationships
Many if not all of these companies have sensitive data on their customers/users that they gathered both during signup and also in the course of the interactions people have had with them. And to put it simply, one must act to protect these accounts from falling into the wrong hands after someone’s passing.
How many of these “relationships” a person has at their time of passing can be a difficult thing to access. Depending on whether it was documented and easily available it readily available or missing entirely. Most people do not document the accounts they have, the social media/email services that they subscribe, nor their actual user names and logins; it’s just not in our human nature to plan for such things. Nevertheless, closing down these accounts should be undertaken as part of the estate management duties.
So what is the risk of not closing them down?
- Identity Theft and Fraud: Criminals do identify recently deceased people so as to commit identify theft which then leads onto identity fraud. It is prudent to mitigate this by closing down the appropriate accounts as quickly as is feasible.
- Unnecessary Expense: This is self-explanatory in that leaving accounts open can incur expense when services are no long being used, TV subscription being a very good example.
To undertake these account/subscription closures can be a time consuming activity. Learning to navigate how each company deals with a customer’s passing can be tricky as from our experience shows, no two follow the same process. Some companies are way ahead and make it easy, while others still avoid the subject and thereby cause greater discomfort at a time when there is already enough.
Having someone available to do these task can be a great help. Checking Out is dealing with these companies/entities every day so we know what is required and how best to navigate the sometimes complex process. We both save a tremendous amount of time and also help reduce the risk of fraud.