Those who have experienced the loss of a loved one know that along with the grief comes the need to handle the business side of death. As painful as it may be, closing accounts attached to your loved one is a necessary step to avoid unnecessary complications in the future.
First things first, when you are issued a death certificate, be sure to request original copies, as some organizations won’t accept copies. A death certificate is often the verification form requested by vendors to take action on an account listed under your loved one’s name. Then, be sure the following 3 steps are taken to secure your loved one’s information.
Stop the cash flow.
Once the outstanding debts have been paid, bank and other financial accounts need to be closed. Most people assume financial agencies and credit reporting companies are made aware of the death of patrons. In truth, the only way these companies learn of a person’s death is through notification from family.
“The first thing you should do is contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies and request that the deceased’s credit report be frozen by noting on it that the person is deceased and that no further credit should be issued,” advised Attorney and college professor Steve Weisman in the article, How To Protect the Deceased Estate from Identity Theft and Fraud.
The Daily Finance Staff also suggests contacting the Direct Marketing Association to be sure your loved one’s name is removed from credit solicitations. This will ensure your loved one’s name isn’t attached to pre-approved credit card offers or convenience check offers.
You may not give the monthly arrival of Better Homes and Gardens or Reader’s Digest a second thought, but as an active subscription, the costs could add up. Many media subscriptions are set up with an auto-renewal payment arrangement. Those fees will accrue of the subscription isn’t canceled. Most cancellation requests can be handled online, and the unused balance is often credited to the account.
Close Down Social Media.
As most older adults begin to utilize social media, tracking online accounts is a smart way to secure your loved one’s information. PayPal, eBay and other online shopping accounts should be closed. Also make sure to close down Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts. If left open and unmonitored, these accounts can provide a new platform for fraud to occur.
According to getattendant.com, “Of the 2.5 million Americans that fall victim to identity theft each year, 25 percent are deceased individuals.”
“The deceased are at an especially high risk since their information is less likely to be protected and monitored for obvious reasons. Various accounts can collectively contain a sizable amount of information that can be exploited if given the opportunity.”
Many take this as an opportunity to memorialize the loved one through their social media accounts then they close the account from future use.
We all want to remember our loved ones for the happiness they brought to our lives. We can secure their legacy by making sure we close unused accounts, stop unnecessary fees from subscriptions or memberships, and closing down social media sites. In this way, we can be sure the memory of our loved one is a good and secure one for many years to come.
Be careful about self-diagnosis
Dr. Scott has a number of concerns about patients who self-diagnose based on websites and searches.
“I use the Internet to help diagnose patients,” Dr. Scott said. “It is a useful tool, but the Internet isn’t your friend. It hasn’t gone to school, it doesn’t read the studies I read, and it can’t talk with you personally about your unique symptoms.”
With an unprecedented accessibility to online information, it is common for patients to research their own symptoms and form their own conclusions about a possible ailment or disease. Not surprisingly, the concern for a misdiagnosis is all too real.
The dangers are two-fold. For a patient who discovers a serious disease matching her symptoms, she may begin self-treatment for an incorrect health condition, thus causing more damage. On the other hand, a misdiagnosis that minimizes the potential seriousness of a disease can delay lifesaving treatments.
The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies here. Dr. Scott states that many medically sound sites physicians use can be accessed by others for a fee. He recommends Up-To-Date and Epocrates for Physicians as well as the American Academy of Family Medicine. Free resources include the Centers for Disease Control and the Mayo Clinic websites. Patients should keep in mind as they do their research that there are many sites that exist to promote the creators or their products.
“If you spend time researching an idea, then please focus your attention on sites where good science stands behind your source searching,” Dr. Scott said.
No concern is insignificant to family medicine providers such as Dr. Scott, and he urges everyone to seek regular medical checkups and care.