One of the most shocking identity theft stories of the past year made news this week, and we wanted to share it with our customers who need document shredding in Los Angeles. Take a look:
Twenty years ago, a man named Jerry Thomas was murdered in New York City. Not long afterward, another man, also named Jerry Thomas, began working at Newark International Airport – also in New York City. The problem is, the second man was not really Jerry Thomas at all, but rather Bimbo Oyewole, an illegal immigrant who stole Jerry Thomas’ identity three years after arriving in the U.S. from his native Nigeria. Oyewole worked using the dead man’s identity since 1992, the same year Jerry Tomas was shot to death in Queens.
The implications of using a dead person’s identity include bill collectors calling the relatives of the deceased in search of payment (since identity thieves are highly likely to skip out on paying the bills they incur under the names of the deceased). Loved ones will need to spend time filling out paperwork to fight the bills that come their way, filing police reports to chase down the identity stealing offender and arguing with creditors about their responsibility for the debt – all things that interfere with the grieving process and moving on with life.
To prevent the identity theft of your recently departed family members, notify credit bureaus of the death and provide the death certificate if it is requested. Then, cancel the family member’s driver’s license to prevent it from being stolen (it can’t do anyone any good if it is inactive). Then, try to limit the amount of personal information you include in a newspaper obituary. It’s worth it in order to protect the identity of your loved one.
Finally, a step that some may find especially difficult, but perhaps the most necessary of all: Your family member’s mail, tax returns and bank statements (unless a joint account is held with a person still living) should be shredded in order to prevent them from getting into the hands of an identity thief. You have memories; you don’t need pages of sensitive financial information to keep the spirit of a loved one alive. If there is an estate involved, consult with an expert first regarding the documents that must be shredded before contacting us to perform document shredding in Los Angeles.