Obituariy Security Obituaries

Privacy and Fraud Concerns: Choosing Whether or Not to Publish an Obituary

Choosing whether or not to publish an obituary

Losing a loved one is a journey through the valley of shadows, a time of navigating grief and making difficult decisions. One such choice arises in the aftermath: to publicly mark their passing with an obituary, or let quiet remembrance hold the vigil. The once straightforward path of a newspaper obituary has broadened into a digital highway, offering a multitude of avenues for sharing, remembering, and celebrating life.

Should you shout across the digital rooftops, whisper through social media’s currents, or draw the curtains close, keeping their memory within the intimate chamber of your heart? This guide illuminates the options, shedding light on the considerations and realities of obituaries in the digital age.

Obituariy Security Obituaries.  Obituary Privacy Concern

What should you not include in an obituary to avoid identity theft?

To avoid identity theft when writing an obituary, it’s crucial to be mindful of the personal information you share. Here’s what to avoid:

Sensitive Personal Information:

  • Full Date of Birth: Sharing only the year or decade of birth is sufficient.
  • Middle Name: Omitting the middle name adds another layer of protection.
  • Date and Place of Birth: Use broader terms like “born in the Midwest” or “passed away peacefully in their hometown.”
  • Mother’s Maiden Name: This is a common security question, so keep it private.
  • Home Address: Sharing the city or general area may be appropriate, but not the exact address.
  • Phone Numbers and Email Addresses: Avoid including contact information for the deceased or surviving family members.

Financial Details:

  • Occupation or Employer: Common security question.
  • Property Information: Keep details about their home, car, or other possessions private.

Other Potentially Revealing Information:

  • School Names and Graduation Dates: Sharing educational background can make it easier for thieves to gather additional information.
  • Military Service Details: Specific information like regiment, unit, or service number can be misused.
  • Travel History: Don’t mention frequent travel destinations or vacation spots.
  • Religious Affiliations: While sharing religious beliefs can be appropriate, be mindful of sensitive details specific to certain groups.

Additional Tip:

  • Be cautious about sharing online: Avoid sharing additional information about the deceased or family members on social media or other public platforms.

Remember, while sharing some details can be meaningful, prioritize the safety and privacy of yourself and your loved ones. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and avoid including overly personal information.

Sharing the Story, Weaving Threads of Connection:

  • Echoes Across Miles: Obituaries reach beyond the immediate circle, carrying news to distant branches of the family tree. They allow those who loved from afar to offer condolences, find solace in shared memories, and join the procession of grief, even in spirit.
  • A Life Painted in Words: Obituaries become brushstrokes on the canvas of time, painting a portrait of the life lived. They celebrate quirks, whisper passions, and showcase the unique mark one left on the world. They become a testament to the stories that continue to resonate.
  • Bridging the Gaps: Obituaries offer a bridge across the chasms of distance, connecting family and friends scattered by life’s winds. They provide a shared space for tears, cherished memories, and the comfort of knowing others grieve alongside you.
  • Whispers in Time’s Ear: Like echoes lingering in the wind, obituaries become a bridge between generations. They offer future kin a glimpse into the lives of those who came before, carrying legacies and stories forward.

Considerations for a Grieving Heart:

  • Privacy’s Delicate Balance: Obituaries, like a window casting light, can reveal details previously held close. Weigh the information you share publicly, for the digital realm holds memories forever.
  • Costs to Consider: Print obituaries, like gilded frames for memories, can come at a price. Explore online platforms offering free options, or prioritize your budget before choosing premium features.
  • Potential Shadows: Online obituaries, like gardens bathed in moonlight, can attract negativity alongside the roses. Be prepared to encounter unwelcome comments, malicious intent, and the need to protect your grief.
  • Grief’s Burden: Writing an obituary can be like weaving a tapestry with tears, each thread a reminder of the void left behind. Consider who bears the strength to tell the story, and whether delaying this task might offer your heart a gentler landing.

Navigating the Digital Obituary:

  • Guarding Identity’s Flame: Be wary of those who lurk in the shadows. Personal details, like embers in the wind, can be snatched by thieves who use them to kindle the flames of fraud and identity theft. Protect such information with vigilance.
  • Distinguishing Wolves from Sheep: Scammers, like wolves in sheep’s clothing, may pounce on your grief. Beware of unsolicited calls, emails, or offers of services from unknown sources. Research and verify before engaging.
  • Shielding from Online Thorns: Online obituaries, like open fields at night, can attract the whispers of negativity and the stings of cyber bullies. Be prepared to shield yourself and your loved ones from the darkness, protecting your grief from further wounds.
  • Protecting Privacy’s Gatekeepers: Some media outlets and platforms, like moths drawn to the light, may republish obituaries without your consent, revealing more than you intended. Understand the privacy settings and terms of service before you share your story online.

Choosing Your Path: When Obituaries Light the Way:

  • No Kin to Share the Load: When your family tree’s branches have withered, leaving no close friends or kin, an obituary can reach out, seeking distant branches, and connecting lost leaves to the memory of their roots.
  • A Tangled Web of Family: In families woven with complex threads, an obituary can offer a neutral canvas, acknowledging all deceased kin without fueling the flames of discord.
  • When Silence Speaks Volumes: If no public service gathers under the sun, an obituary can whisper the news, allowing those who loved in secret to offer their silent farewells.
  • A Life Worth Celebrating: For those who shone brightly in the world, an obituary can become a beacon, celebrating their contributions and inspiring others.

Ultimately, the decision to publish an obituary is a personal one, a choice to navigate the digital highway while honoring the memory of your loved one. Whether you shout from the rooftops, whisper through the internet’s breeze, or choose

To Obituary or Not; Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I have to publish an obituary online or in print?

This is entirely up to you and your family’s preferences. Consider the deceased’s wishes, your comfort level with sharing information online, and the potential reach of different platforms.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of online obituaries compared to traditional print obituaries?

Online obituaries offer wider reach, multimedia options, and potential cost savings, but privacy concerns and potential negativity are greater. Print obituaries are more permanent and traditional, but their reach is limited and costs can be higher.

What information should I include in an obituary?

This depends on your comfort level and the level of detail you think would be appreciated by others. Typically, obituaries include information like the deceased’s name, date of birth and death, cause of death if desired, family members, service details if applicable, and a brief biographical sketch.

How much does it cost to publish an obituary?

Costs vary depending on whether you choose to print or online, the specific platform, and any additional features you desire. Many online platforms offer free basic listings, while premium features or extended listings may involve fees.

Who should write the obituary?

There’s no single answer, but anyone who feels comfortable and knowledgeable about the deceased’s life can write it. Family members, close friends, or even colleagues can contribute their memories and thoughts.

How can I protect my privacy when publishing an obituary online?

Be careful about the amount of personal information you share, such as dates of birth, addresses, and phone numbers. Use privacy settings on online platforms and consider password-protecting sensitive information.

What are the risks of online scams related to obituaries?

Scammers may target grieving families through phishing emails, fake charities, or fraudulent offers of services. Be wary of unsolicited contacts and verify any organization before engaging with them. Identity theft can victimize the dead.

Can I prevent my obituary from being republished online?

While you can’t completely control online republishing, you can set privacy settings on the platforms you use and request respectful treatment of your information from publishers.

What are some alternative ways to honor a loved one who doesn’t have an obituary?

Consider planting a tree, creating a memory box, or donating to a charity in their name. You can also hold a private memorial service or share memories online through social media or personal memorial websites.

What happens if someone steals the identity of a deceased person?

Identity theft of a deceased person, also known as “ghosting,” is a serious crime with potential consequences for both the identity thief and the deceased’s family. Here’s what can happen:

Financial Fraud: The thief might use the deceased’s personal information (name, Social Security number, date of birth) to open new credit cards, take out loans, or make fraudulent purchases. This can leave the deceased’s estate with unexpected debt.
Damaged Credit Report: The fraudulent activity can damage the deceased’s credit report, making it difficult for the family to settle their financial affairs or access benefits the deceased may have been entitled to.
Difficulty Closing Accounts: The family may face challenges closing the deceased’s existing accounts (bank, credit cards) due to suspicious activity.
Emotional Distress: Learning that someone has stolen their loved one’s identity can be emotionally stressful for grieving families.
How to Protect Yourself:
Alert Credit Bureaus: Notify the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) of the death with a copy of the death certificate. This will place an “alert deceased” notice on the deceased’s credit report, making it harder for thieves to open new accounts.
Monitor Accounts: Carefully monitor the deceased’s bank statements and credit card reports for any suspicious activity.
Shred Documents: Shred any personal documents of the deceased that contain sensitive information.
Be Cautious with Obituaries: Limit the personal information included in obituaries, such as Social Security number or date of birth.
What to Do if You Suspect Identity Theft:
Report the Theft: If you suspect identity theft, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the local authorities.
Contact Creditors: Contact the credit card companies, banks, or any other institutions where you suspect fraudulent activity has occurred.
By understanding the risks and taking preventive measures, you can help protect yourself and your loved ones from the consequences of identity theft after death.

What not to include in an obituary to avoid identity theft?

Full Date of Birth: Include only the year of birth or a general age range.
Mother’s Maiden Name: This is a common security question used for financial accounts.
Home Address: Publicly sharing the deceased’s address can be a safety concern for grieving family members.
Detailed Financial Information: Avoid mentioning details like bank names, account numbers, assets, real estate, or investment holdings.
High School or Early Work History: This information can be used by identity thieves to piece together personal details and answer security questions.

What are the risks of obituaries?

While obituaries serve as a beautiful way to honor the deceased and inform loved ones of their passing, there are some potential risks associated with the information they contain.

Obituaries can be a target for criminals engaging in “ghosting,” a form of identity theft where the deceased’s personal information is used to open new accounts, make fraudulent purchases, or damage their credit report. By including details like full date of birth, Social Security number, or even a mother’s maiden name, obituaries can unintentionally provide identity thieves with the tools they need to exploit the deceased’s financial records. This can lead to financial burdens for the family settling the estate and emotional distress as they deal with the complexities of resolving identity theft.

To mitigate these risks, it’s important to be mindful of the information included in obituaries, focusing on celebrating the life of the deceased while protecting their details.

What can a scammer do with a death certificate?

A death certificate in the wrong hands can be a valuable tool for a scammer.

The information it contains, such as the deceased’s full name, date of birth, and Social Security number, can be used to commit a crime known as “ghosting” or identity theft of the deceased. With this information, a scammer could potentially open new credit cards, take out loans, or even make fraudulent purchases in the deceased’s name.

This can wreak havoc on the deceased’s credit report and leave their estate with unexpected debt. Furthermore, it can make it difficult for the family to close existing accounts or access any benefits the deceased may have been entitled to.

For these reasons, it’s important to be cautious about who has access to a death certificate and to shred any copies that are no longer needed.

What Government agencies and programs should be notified in the event of a death?

In the wake of a loved one’s passing, there are several government agencies and programs that may need to be notified. This helps ensure the deceased’s affairs are settled correctly, benefits are stopped or transferred if applicable, and official records are updated. Here’s a breakdown of some key contacts:

Social Security Administration (SSA): Report the death to the SSA as soon as possible. This will stop Social Security benefits and ensure any survivors’ benefits are initiated.
State Social Services Office: Contact your state’s social services department to cancel benefits like Medicaid, food stamps, or welfare programs the deceased may have been receiving.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS): File a final tax return for the deceased and notify the IRS of their passing.
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Report the death to the DMV to cancel the deceased’s driver’s license and vehicle registration.
Passport Agency: If the deceased had a passport, it should be returned to the Department of State for cancellation.
Medicare/Medicaid: These programs should also be notified to terminate coverage for the deceased.
Remember, this is not an exhaustive list, and depending on the individual’s circumstances, there might be additional agencies or programs to notify. It’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer or financial advisor for personalized guidance on handling the legal and financial aspects of a loved one’s passing.

How do you report a death to Social Security and Medicare?

When a family member who receives Social Security or Medicare benefits passes away, it’s important to notify both the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Medicare program promptly. There are a few ways to report the death:

Call the SSA: You can directly contact the SSA by phone at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778) during business hours (8:00 AM to 7:00 PM Eastern Time). A representative can guide you through the reporting process and answer any questions you may have.
Visit Your Local SSA Office: In-person reporting is also an option. You can locate your nearest Social Security office by using the SSA’s online Office Locator tool. Take proof of death (death certificate) with you when visiting the office.
Have the Funeral Home Report It: Many funeral homes offer to report the death to the SSA on your behalf. If you choose this option, provide them with the deceased’s Social Security number to facilitate the reporting process.

No matter which method you choose, remember to report the death as soon as possible. This helps prevent any delays in stopping benefits and ensures accurate records. Keep in mind that Social Security and Medicare do not accept reports of death online or by email.

How to return a deceased person’s Social Security payment to the Social Security Administration (SSA)?

If you receive a Social Security payment for a deceased loved one, it’s important to return it promptly to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to avoid any complications. Here’s what you should do:

Identify Payment Method: First, determine how the deceased received their Social Security benefits. Was it by direct deposit or paper check?
Direct Deposit: If the payment was received electronically, contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible. Inform them that the deposit was for a deceased person and request them to return the funds to the SSA.
Paper Check: For payments received by check, do not cash it. Instead, you can either mail the uncashed check back to the SSA along with a brief explanation or return it in person to your local Social Security office.

For either method (direct deposit or check), you can also report the death and return the mistaken payment through the SSA website or by calling their national toll-free number (1-800-772-1213). They can guide you through the specific process and ensure the proper return of the funds.

Remember, it’s important to return any Social Security overpayments promptly to avoid penalties or potential debt collection efforts from the SSA.

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