January 7, 2008
Jefferson City, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon says some Missourians who have lost a spouse recently are getting strange phone calls asking for the Social Security number of the deceased loved one. Nixon says the calls are coming mainly to consumers in the Kansas City area, but could soon reach other parts of Missouri.
Thieves for years have found ways to victimize grieving families, through robberies or other crimes. In this identity theft attempt, Nixon says scammers hope to use the personal information to open new financial accounts before the death is reported to government agencies and credit bureaus.
“This is one more way to victimize those who are grieving the loss of a spouse” Nixon said. “These thieves claim to work for a government agency and try to catch unsuspecting Missourians off guard, hoping they’ll give up valuable personal information about their late spouse.”
Nixon says identity theft can be a threat even after death, when thieves can run up significant amounts of debt in a deceased consumer’s name, which could leave the victim’s family or estate responsible for the bills.
The Attorney General says consumers should never give out personal information such as date of birth, Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers to anyone who contacts them, whether by phone, e-mail or any other method. Consumers should only divulge such information when they have initiated the contact.