In an era of social media, families and friends often share important news on platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Usually it’s a happy celebration of a new baby, an engagement or a graduation but many people also use social to let friends and family know when a loved one has passed and details of the funeral arrangements. But sharing too much information with a large number of people, online or in a newspaper, can put families at risk for break and enters as well as fraud.
Family plans to be out of town or away from home for an extended time should be shared only with a trusted neighbor or family member, according to a recent Ontario Provincial Police warning. Death notices and funeral details that are published should never include specific home addresses, and it is wise to make arrangements for someone to stay at the family residence during a funeral service. At the very least, park several cars in the driveway and make every attempt for the home to appear to be occupied.
The death of a loved one can also leave bereaved families vulnerable to identity theft. Providing details about time or place of birth can help fraudsters determine the social security number of the deceased which can be used to apply for loans or open credit cards. The next of kin should let credit bureaus, social security agencies, credit card companies, mortgage companies and banks know of the death. The fewer details published following the death of a family member, the better.
Travel plans of any kind should not be posted on social media, especially if there is no home security system installed. After the death of a spouse, families may want to encourage an individual living alone to invest in a home security system for their peace of mind. A robbery following the death of a loved one can be devastating to families, it is not only a financial loss but a break-in can also cause significant emotional trauma.
It’s important to be aware that during times of loss and mourning, scammers may come out of the woodwork to prey on grieving spouses who may have their guard down. Be wary of any “long lost relatives” that suddenly surface. Families can help an elder who has lost a partner by gently reminding them not to give out any personal information over the phone or online. Getting rid of junk mail and opting out of telemarketing calls can also help protect seniors from financial scams and fraud.
Learn more about how to protect yourself or a loved-one from scammers after a death by following this link to a recent AARP Scams & Fraud report.