Ghosting – What Is It? How to Protect Estate

Seniors are too often the victims of financial fraud but in recent cases, theft can even occur beyond the grave.

Identity theft after the death of a loved one is a growing concern across North America. “Ghosting”, using the identity of a deceased person to open credit card accounts, file false tax returns or take out loans, is a concerning trend.

In the United States, nearly 2.5 million deceased individuals have their identities stolen each year, according to a consumer protection alert from AARP.

Family members who share a bank account with the decease can be compromised as well so it’s important to take measures to protect the estate.

Steps to Protect the Estate:

  • Don’t publish too many personal details in an obituary.  Skip the date of birth, maiden name and home address.
  • Notify banks and other financial institutions with a death certificate immediately.
  • Notify all credit agencies – ask for a credit report to verify all accounts are closed and send a copy of death certificate to each.
  • Check credit report in coming weeks and months to ensure all accounts are flagged as deceased.  (do not issue credit)
  • Report death to Old Age Security, Social Insurance and cancel driver’s license.
  • Send all copies of death certificates by registered mail with a return receipt to ensure the certificates arrive as intended.

For more information about fraud or to report an incident visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at .

For more information about what to do following a death visit the Canadian Revenue Agency at .