Merlino & Gonzalez May 2018

Identity Thieves Will Target Anyone


Every year, more and more people who are dealing with the loss of a family member experience something bizarre and unsettling. Their loved one may have passed away months ago, but all of a sudden, they receive word that somebody has opened a credit card in their name. That might sound like the premise of a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode, but we can assure you that it’s no joke. In fact, more than 2 million deceased Americans have their identities stolen every year according to fraud prevention firm ID Analytics. How does this happen? For starters, it takes a lot longer for credit agencies to be notified of a death than you might think. The same goes for banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions. Identity thieves exploit this gap in order to take advantage of people who can’t defend themselves. They’re betting on the fact that family members will be too busy with other concerns to check the decedent’s credit report. To avoid this happening to your family, you can take a number of precautions. The first, and most important, is to send copies of your relative’s death certificate to the major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You must include

documents stating that you are authorized to represent the decedent, as well as all the personal information of that person. Request that the credit bureaus note that the person is deceased and they should not issue any credit in that person’s name. You should also send death certificates to any financial company your loved one had a relationship with. Additionally, the DMV in the decedent’s state should be called in order to cancel their driver’s license. Taking the time to do this on your own will close the window that thieves have to access any accounts. Be mindful of the fact that any information you publish can be used to criminal ends. Disgusting as it may sound, thieves often read obituaries to find out the maiden names, dates of birth, and street addresses of the recently deceased. If you plan to run an obituary in a newspaper or via the internet, make sure you leave these personal details out. At Merlino & Gonzalez, we guide our clients through every part of the estate planning process, even the unpleasant ones. If you want to know more about how to protect your departed’s identity, call us today.


take a break

If you want to be the hit of this year’s Memorial Day cookout, don’t overlook the star power of a well-made side dish. These smoky, tangy grilled potatoes will be the talk of the party. The best part is how easy they are to prep and make! • 2 pounds baby potatoes, halved • 1/4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil • Juice of 1/2 lemon • 1/2 packet ranch seasoning INGREDIENTS 1. Heat grill to medium. In a large pan, toss potatoes with olive oil, lemon juice, and ranch seasoning. Season generously with salt and pepper. 2. Skewer potatoes. (If using wood skewers, be sure to DIRECTIONS

• Ranch dressing for drizzling • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives • Bacon bits (optional) • Salt and pepper to taste soak in water an hour before grilling.) Grill until tender and lightly charred, about 15 minutes. 3. Drizzle with ranch and garnish with chives and bacon bits.



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