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Obit Info Used to Commit Fraud

Posted: July 25, 2014

It is unfortunate but each year, unscrupulous individuals use the identities of nearly 2.5 million deceased Americans to fraudulently open credit card accounts, apply for loans and get cellphone or other services, according to fraud prevention firm ID Analytics. Sometimes, the information contained in obituaries is used to commit fraud.

As you are well aware, families often write obituaries themselves and it is standard practice to include basic information about their loved one, such as place of employment, maiden name, etc., to help identify that individual to members of the community who may want to attend the funeral. Obituaries also offer an opportunity for families to honor the life of a loved one. Including details about the individual's life helps a family recognize the person's contributions, interests and favorite activities.

While the content of an obituary is ultimately driven by the family's wishes, if you notice that a family plans to include highly sensitive information, please caution against doing so.

NFDA also encourages you to share the "Death Notification Checklist" with families you serve; it is one of the free legal forms and documents available on the NFDA website (; login required).

When an individual dies, it is critical that family members notify various government agencies, banks, creditors and credit reporting agencies of the death to reduce the risk of identity theft and fraud. The "Death Notification Checklist" offers a list of possible agencies and businesses that should be promptly notified when a death occurs.