People make no sense. Take this story out of Tacoma, Wash., for example: Two men have been accused of stealing a woman’s possessions, money and identity, after they allegedly burglarized her home and found her corpse. The brothers allegedly wrapped up her body in a tent and moved it from her home to one of theirs, where it was later discovered under a bale of hay by police and cadaver dogs, reports CBS affiliate KIRO-TV.
Pierce County investigators estimate the 63-year-old woman had died, apparently of natural causes, a month and a half before the brothers broke in. They’re accused of taking all her things, coming and going over the course of 2 1/2 weeks to collect anything of value, including cars, antiques and bank account information. The woman had been reported missing, but no one checked on her, and the police picked up the investigation when the woman’s credit union contacted them to report large, suspicious withdrawals.
While the details of this story are very strange, what happened isn’t terribly surprising. Identity theft is nearly as certain as death these days, and your risk of becoming a victim doesn’t end with your life — actually, identity thieves target the deceased, because the fraud is less likely to be found.
So what can you do about that? Not much, honestly. Preventing identity theft is incredibly difficult, given how much personal data fraudsters can access through public databases, social media and post-breach data dumps online. The best thing you can do to minimize the damage of identity theft is monitor your accounts and devices for signs of fraud, and act quickly to shut it down when things look suspicious. As for the identity-theft-after-death issue, things are a little trickier. Leave instructions for how your family should handle accessing and closing accounts, checking your credit reports for signs of fraud after your death and filing your final tax return before a thief beats them to it. You can monitor your own credit for signs of fraud by checking your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?