Deceased identity fraud on the rise

A new report by the AARP in the US reveals that nearly 800,000 deceased people have their identities stolen each year. That’s almost 2,200 every day. According to stats from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2,712, 630 Americans die every year equating to close to 7,500 each day. That means that one in three people in the US has their identity stolen after they have died. The report estimates that ‘ghosting’, stealing the identity of a dead person, is also on the rise and that by next year the number of cases will surpass 800,000.

The UK does not have figures for the number of cases of deceased identity fraud, but if it has a similar rate to the US it would mean that 145,000 deceased people per year, or 400 per day, are being defrauded. However, Cifas, the fraud prevention centre for the UK, statistics reflect rising trend in identity fraud. Last year, there were 174,523 ID theft cases — the highest annual figure ever recorded, and a 125 per cent increase compared with a decade ago. And deceased identity fraud has been identified as the fastest growing form of identity fraud.

The AAPR report questions why this is the case in the US and it concludes that it is because it is both a lucrative and easy crime to commit. The personal information of the deceased can be used for fraudulent activity that can go unnoticed for years, because unlike live victims, dead people never check their accounts or credit file. It is also considered a victimless crime, since the person is deceased. However, the family of the deceased might well disagree, given the stress and upset deceased identity fraud can cause.

Every year in both the US and UK millions of pounds worth of merchandise and credit is given to people using the personal information of someone that is deceased and the only way to stop it is to have a system in place that flags up suspect applications. Halo does just that. It screens applications against a file of deceased individuals and alerts the credit provider to any applications that are a match. This means that the fraud is prevented at source which saves thousands of pounds in the long term.

For more information about deceased identity fraud please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01274 53 88 21 or email me: Karen.pritchard@wilmingtonmillennium.co.uk