What is a 'Deceased Alert'

A deceased alert is a notification that makes credit card companies aware that a person has died. The alert is sent out by credit reporting agencies and appears on a person’s credit report. It tells creditors they should not issue this person credit at any time going forward.

Breaking Down 'Deceased Alert'

A deceased alert is a necessary tactic in the effort to prevent identity theft after a person has died. Identity thieves have been known to steal the identity of people who have died, abusing their information for the thieves’ gain.

If identity thieves obtain the name and personal information or records associated with a deceased person, they may apply for credit cards or try to open other accounts using that person’s name. They may also attempt to use the person’s existing credit card numbers or accounts, and they may be successful if those accounts are left open. Identity theft can cause major financial damage and harm a person’s estate, leaving survivors to cope with a lengthy and complicated recovery process. A deceased alert helps guard against this possibility.

To make sure a deceased alert appears on a person’s credit report, the deceased person’s family or next of kin must contact the credit reporting bureaus and ask them to issue a deceased alert.

Preventing Identity Theft After A Loved One's Death

The Social Security Administration does eventually contact credit reporting agencies to make them aware of a death. However, this process often does not occur until several months after the person has died. Identity thieves can cause a lot of financial harm within that time frame.

Survivors should take several important precautionary measures after a loved one has died to ensure that identity theft is prevented. Family members and friends of the deceased should take these measures as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of financial loss. Some of those steps include:

  • Refrain from listing the person’s date of birth or address in their obituary
  • Get several certified copies of the deceased person’s death certificate
  • Send the death certificates to the credit card companies, banks, insurance companies, and other institutions where the deceased held accounts; request they close those accounts and indicate in their records the account holder is deceased
  • Contact the Social Security Administration to report the death
  • Mail copies of the deceased person’s death certificate to the three credit-reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and request a deceased alert
  • Cancel the person’s driver’s license
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