An NYPD officer was arrested for allegedly taking a dead man’s credit card information and using it to buy a $3,200 diamond ring at Zales, reported NBC News. Ymmacula Pierre, 30, has been an officer of the New York Police Department for three years and has pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of stolen property, identity theft and official misconduct.
Pierre went to a Manhattan apartment to conduct a wellness check on a resident in July 2014, by request of the tenant’s family. Pierre discovered the resident, 65-year-old Ken Sanden, had died — and she is accused of taking Sanden’s credit card information after notifying the family of his death. She allegedly purchased the diamond ring with the card information two days later. Her arrest follows months of investigation into the fraud — meanwhile, Pierre has been suspended from the NYPD for 30 days without pay, NBC reports.
Fraud like the kind Pierre has been accused of can be particularly difficult for victims’ families to deal with, especially if a lot of time passes between the time the fraud occurs and when it is discovered and reported. In the case of credit card abuse, the victim’s liability is limited to $50 (unless the card has a zero liability clause in the agreement), but if the card information, rather than the card itself, is stolen, the victim shouldn’t be liable for fraudulent purchases.
Debit cards are a different story. Fraud must be reported within two business days to limit liability to $50, and if the fraud goes unreported for 60 days from the time the unauthorized transactions appear on the account statement, the victim could be liable for all of the purchases. This problem often pops up with the primary accountholder isn’t capable of monitoring their account activity, as is the case with deceased victims.
This is one of the many reasons it’s important to leave instructions for how to deal with your financial accounts after your death. On top of that, families need to quickly tend to the deceased’s finances, to minimize the chances of abuse. Because identity thieves see such people as easy targets, it’s crucial to check the credit of someone who has passed away or isn’t capable of checking it themselves. It’s especially important to also ensure that the death is reported to the credit reporting agencies to close their files, and the same goes for their financial accounts. You can check your own credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can check your credit scores for signs of identity theft or fraud for free every month on Credit.com.
More on Identity Theft:
- How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?