On a traditional Catholic calendar October 31st through November 2nd are all holidays. October 31st needs no explanation All Hallows Eve or Halloween is quite notable. That makes November 1st All Hallows Day, Better known as All Saint’s Day. November 1st is set aside to honor the many saints of the church. That only leaves November 2nd.
November 2nd is not really observed in the U.S. except in ares where there is a large Hispanic population. November 2nd is All Souls Day, better known in Mexico as Dia de los Muertos-Day of the Dead.
The Day of the Dead/All Souls Day, is a day to honor and remember those who have passed on. Being today is the Day of the Dead, It is an appropriate day for me to honor and remember the dead in my own way. By telling you about a practice that dishonors our departed loved ones. It is called Ghosting and it is one of the first widely used forms of identity theft. Ghosting is simply taking over the identity of someone who has died.
There was a time when governments did not document births or deaths. It fell to families and churches to record this information through family bibles, baptismal records or church membership registries. That meant that the information on births and deaths was only available locally. Identity thieves only needed to worry about a few things to successfully ghost someone. They needed to be the same sex and race as the deceased and close to the same age. All they had to do was go to a different location and establish themselves as the deceased.
When Government began to be more effective at recording vital statistics, Classic Ghosting became much harder. Today it is almost impossible. Ghosting still occurs today but in a different form.
Today ghosting is all about using the information of the deceased to commit financial identity theft or Social Security Identity Theft. Yes we do have what is called the Death Master File to prevent it from happening but it can take years for the deceased to be added to the file.
A Well known victim of Modern Ghosting is the Late Nirvana front man, Kurt Cobain. Kurt Cobain died in 1994 yet his social security number was allegedly used in 2007 to purchase a $3.2 million home in New Jersey.
Identity thieves will target anyone even our loved ones who have passed on. When you lose someone you love, they can no longer protect themselves. It is up to us to protect them. or for us to take steps to protect ourselves before we pass on. Talking to an attorney now about what you can do as a part of your estate planning would be a good first step.