Merlino & Gonzalez December 2017


If you’ve been following the news at all recently, you’ve probably heard about the Equifax data breach. The loss of the personal data of over 140 million Americans is a massive cause for concern. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to monitor your data even if it has been compromised. But there are some people who aren’t so lucky. Sad as it is to say, identity thieves also target the recently deceased. According to fraud prevention firm ID Analytics, thieves steal the identities of 2 million deceased Americans every year. If you’re dealing with the recent departure of a loved one, the last thing you need is to have to worry about somebody taking out credit cards in their name. Follow these five steps to protect your loved one’s data from prying eyes. 1. It can take months for credit agencies to be made aware of a death, so it’s up to you to send copies of death certificates to the three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Certificates should be sent through certified mail and include papers documenting that you are the representative of the deceased. Ask the credit bureaus to put a “deceased — do not issue credit” alert on all credit files.

2. You should also send death certificate copies to any organization where the deceased had accounts. Try to contact all of the relevant banks, insurance companies, and financial institutions promptly. 3. The Equifax breach demonstrated how much thieves can do with driver’s license information. Cancel your loved one’s license with the state’s DMV to ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. 4. Keep any information that could be used to open an account out of public obituaries. Facts like street address, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name are often used as authenticators. If you publish this information, it could end up being used for nefarious ends. 5. Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll still need to monitor the deceased’s credit for up to one year. Each credit reporting agency offers one free report annually to executors and trustees via



Scrambling to find something for the holiday potluck? This fondue is sure to impress!


• ¾ cup dry white wine • 1 tablespoon cornstarch • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced Swiss cheese 1. In a large bowl, whisk together wine and cornstarch. 2. Chop cheese slices into small, uniform pieces. 3. Rub clove of garlic all over the DIRECTIONS

• 1 clove garlic • Salt to taste • Foods to dip (apple slices, bread cubes, roasted vegetables, etc.)

Add some cheese and slowly whisk. When nearly smooth, add more cheese and whisk gently. Repeat until all cheese is melted. If mixture seems too tight, add 1 tablespoon wine.

sides and bottom of a heavy- bottomed pot, then discard.

5. Season with salt and serve immediately. Keep pot on low heat to keep the fondue dippable.

4. Heat wine mixture over

medium-low heat in the pot until thick and bubbling.

Recipe inspired by



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