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6 steps to protect a loved one’s identity after they die

(NEWS) Protecting your identity after death is important given how vulnerable and up for grabs an identity is post-mortem.

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When a loved one passes, the last thing someone thinks about is what to do with their identity. The elderly and dead are often targeted at victims of identity theft, made easier in the era of technology, making it essential for someone to complete essential steps to prevent this from occurring, especially important when the deceased is a business owner.

NextAdvisor.com Editor Julie Myhre has offered six steps below in her own words that you should immediately complete when a loved one passes to protect their identity. It feels morbid to think in this way, but this problem is becoming increasingly common, but it doesn’t have to happen to your family.

Step Zero: acquiring certificates

Before completing any of the following steps, loved ones need to acquire at least 12 official copies of the death certificate. There may be an extra fee for each copy, however all of the agencies responsible for noting the death will need official copies to verify the death of the person, and it can help with identity theft protection.

Step One: Notify the Social Security Administration

The first step is to contact the Social Security Administration because the majority of a person’s identity is connected to their social security number, and alerting the Social Security Administration will get the deceased’s personal information added to the Death Master File or an official list of the deceased maintained by the Social Security Administration. Also, if the deceased was eligible for social security benefits, then the family or executor of the estate would want to get the benefits immediately redirected to the rightful heir.

Before a family member or executor of the estate contacts the Social Security Administration, they’ll need to gather some information about the deceased person — including the deceased’s social security number, date of birth, date of death and address. Once all the information is collected, a family member or executor of the estate should call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
It’s important to note that family members or executors of the estate are not always required to report the death to the Social Security Administration because the funeral director also has the ability to report the death. Be sure to have a discussion to reporting the death with the funeral director to verify who will be responsible for this step.

Step Two: Alert all three credit bureaus

The next thing family members or executors of the estate should do to delete the deceased person’s identity is to contact all three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Before calling, family members or executors of the estate should make sure that they have the deceased’s full name, social security number, date of birth, date of death, last known address  and their last five years of addresses.

Each of the bureaus has specific requirements to mark a credit holder as deceased, so it’s best to call each bureau prior to sending the official death certificate to find out what the specific requirements are for that specific bureau. Once all the necessary information is gathered, the family members or executor of the estate can then mail it to the individual bureaus.

Step Three: Void the deceased’s driver’s license

Since driver’s licenses contain a lot of personal information, it’s essentially to call the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to void their driver’s license. It’s best to have personal information — including the deceased’s social security number, date of birth, date of death and address — about the deceased on hand, yet the requirements for each DMV differs depending on the state in which the deceased lived. Call or visit the website of the state’s DMV to learn more about voiding a driver’s license in that state.

Step Four: Contact every bank and financial institution the deceased did business with

In today’s world, people bank with numerous banks or financial institutions, so it’s essential for identity theft protection for family members or executors of the estate to contact every bank and financial institution that the deceased did business with. Make sure each account is closed and the bank or financial institution is aware that the person is deceased.

It’s essential to also contact any financial institutions or bank that the deceased person had a credit card, mortgage, personal loans or any other debt. If the deceased has unpaid debt, then the spouse, someone with a power of attorney or the executor of the estate will be responsible for sorting it out with each individual bank and financial institution.

Step Five: Alert insurance and annuity companies

Once a person dies, insurance companies sometimes do not know of the death until a family member or executor of the estate calls to alert them. If the person had life insurance and annuity, disability insurance, automotive insurance or a relationship with a mutual benefit company, then a family member or executor of the estate should be sure to also inform those companies of the death.

Step Six: Cancel any membership-orientated agencies

The final step for deleting the identity of the deceased is to contact every company or institution that the deceased had a membership with. This can be the most time-consuming step because a family member or executor of the estate must call or contact grocery stores, health or athletic clubs, libraries, alumni clubs, professional organizations, as well as rotary or lions organizations. It’s also essential to contact any professional licensing bodies if the person had a career that required a professional license — such as a doctor, real estate agent, lawyer or cosmetologist.

It’s important to note that there might be other required steps if the deceased person was a military veteran or not a U.S. citizen. Family members or executors of the estate of a deceased veteran should alert the Veteran’s Administration by calling 1-800-827-1000. Family members or executor of the estate of a deceased non-U.S. citizen should alert the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service of the death by calling 1-800-375-5283.
Some family members or executors of the estate choose to have the deceased’s personal information added to the Deceased Do Not Contact List, which is maintained by the Direct Marketing Association, for a $1 fee. This list ensures that the deceased person will be placed in a do not contact file. In order to add someone to the list, a family member or executor of the estate will need to provide the deceased person’s name, street address, phone number and email address. Deceased people can be added to the Deceased Do Not Contact List by filling out and submitting the online form here.

The takeaway

Grieving is complicated enough, and with technology, hackers can easily lift a loved one’s identity, especially when they’re no longer around to defend themselves. Taking these steps can help with some of the technicalities involved in protecting your loved one’s identity even after life.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Business News

Finally the American workforce is now mostly women!

(BUSINESS NEWS) Women officially make up more than half the workforce, but that doesn’t mean total equality. So what does this tipping of the scale mean?

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women workforce

Equality for women has finally been achieved: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now make up more than half of the workforce! That’s it, that’s the article.

Kidding. Just because women are currently in the majority doesn’t mean all their problems are solved.

First, it’s worth noting that although women currently make up more than half of employees on payroll, that number is slight (50.04% to be exact). Not to mention, women are very likely to fall back in the minority once construction – a male dominated profession – picks back up in the spring.

Still, the number of women in the workforce has been growing over the last decade. While jobs in manufacturing – another male dominated field – are dwindling, jobs in education and healthcare are growing. When it comes to K-12 teaching, for example, women are more likely to fill teaching roles. Women also dominate in nursing.

Not to mention, women are earning more degrees than men!

That said, despite this progress, women as a whole are still getting paid less than men. Part of the reason lies in the types of careers that women end up in. Those female-dominated fields we mentioned earlier? They don’t typically pay well. Plus, there’s that pesky glass ceiling that still exists in some fields. Remember, there are more CEOs named John than female CEOs.

It’s also worth noting that the information collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics only covered people on a payroll. That means the growing number of freelancers aren’t being accounted for in the report. Freelancing has become a great way for individuals, often women, to stay home and care for their family while also earning money. It would be interesting to know how freelancers shift the balance, both in employment and income.

Finally, there’s the invisible labor that women often contribute to society. According to the UN, women account for 75% of all unpaid labor – which includes things like childcare, meal prep and cleaning. This is vital labor that is not accounted for by studies like that of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and sheds light into another reason why women might still have lower pay than men, on average.

So, yes, the fact that women make up over half the workforce is something to be celebrated! That said, we’ve still got work to do on the equality front.

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Business News

Interview escape plan 101: Because you definitely need one

(BUSINESS NEWS) A job interview should be a place to ask about qualifications but it seems more people are asked about their personal life. How do you escape this problem?

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interview from hell

“So, why did you move from Utah to Austin?” the interviewer asked over the phone.

The question felt a little out of place in the job interview, but I gave my standard answer about wanting a fresh scene. I’d just graduated college and was looking to break into the Austin market. But the interviewer wasn’t done.

“But why Austin?” he insisted, “There can’t be that many Mormons here.”

My stomach curled. This was a job interview – I’d expected to discuss my qualifications for the position and express my interest in the company. Instead, I began to answer more and more invasive questions about my personal life and religion. The whole ordeal left me very uncomfortable, but because I was young and desperate, I put up with it. In fact, I even went back for a second interview!

At the time, I thought I had to put up with that sort of treatment. Only recently have I realized that the interview was extremely unprofessional and it wasn’t something I should have felt obligated to endure.

And I’m not the only one with a bad interview story. Recently, Slate ran an article sharing others’ terrible experiences, which ranged from having their purse inspected to being trapped in a 45 minute presentation! No doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mistreatment by potential employers.

So, why do we put up with it?

Well, sometimes people just don’t know better. Maybe, like I was, they’re young or inexperienced. In these cases, these sorts of situations seem like they could just be the norm. There’s also the obvious power dynamic: you might need a job, but the potential employers probably don’t need you.

While there might be times you have to grit your teeth and bear it, it’s also worth remembering that a bad interview scenario often means bad working conditions later on down the line. After all, if your employers don’t respect you during the interview stage, it’s likely the disrespect will continue when you’re hired.

Once you’ve identified an interview is bad news, though, how do you walk out? Politely. As tempting as it is to make a scene, you probably don’t want to go burning bridges. Instead, excuse yourself by thanking your interviewers, wishing them well and asserting that you have realized the business wouldn’t be a good fit.

Your time, as well as your comfort, are important! If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. It isn’t easy, but if a job interview is crossing the line, you’re well within your rights to leave. Better to cut your losses early.

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Business News

What’s DMT and why are techies and entrepreneurs secretly taking the drug?

(BUSINESS) The tech world and entrepreneur world are quietly taking a psychadellic in increasing numbers – they make a compelling case, but it’s not without risks.

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DMT

Move over tortured artists and festival-goers, psychedelics aren’t just for you anymore. An increasing number of professionals in Silicon Valley swear by “microdosing” psychedelic substances such as lysergic acid diethylamide(LSD) in efforts to heighten creativity and drive innovative efforts.

This probably isn’t a shock to anyone following trends in tech and startups, particularly the glorification of the 8-trillion hour workweek (#hustle). But business owners, entrepreneurs, and technologists are also turning to other hallucinogens to awaken higher levels of consciousness in hopes of influencing favorable business results.

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is growing in popularity as business leaders and creatives flock to Peru or mastermind retreats to ingest the drug. It exists in the human body as well as other animals and plants. In his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Dr. Rick Strassman says “this ‘spirit’ molecule provides our consciousness access to the most amazing and unexpected visions, thoughts and feelings. It throws open the door to worlds beyond our imagination.”

The substance is commonly synthesized in a lab and smoked, with short-lived effects (between five to 45 minutes, however, some say it lasts for hours).

Traditionally, however, it is extracted from various Amazonian plant species and snuffed or consumed as a tea (called ayahuasca or yage). The effects of DMT when consumed in this manner can last as long as ten hours. Entrepreneurs are attracted to the “ayahuasca experience” for its touted ability to provide clarity, vision and inventiveness.

Physical effects are said to include an increase in blood pressure and a raised heart rate. Users report gastrointestinal effects when taken orally, commonly referred to as the “purge.” The purging can include vomiting or diarrhea, which makes for interesting conversation at the next company whiteboarding session.

Users are subject to dizziness, difficulty regulating body temperature, and muscular incoordination. Users also risk seizures, respiratory failure, or falling into a coma.

DMT can interfere with medications or foods, a reason why many indigenous tribes that work with it also follow specific dietary guidelines prior to ingestion. Not paying attention to diet or prescription medication prior to consuming ayahuasca or DMT can lead to the opposite of the intended effect, potentially even causing trauma or death.

So why the hell are people putting themselves through this ordeal?

Many claim profound mental effects, often experiencing a transformative occurrence that provides clarity and healing. Auditory and visual hallucinations are common, with reports of geometric shapes and sharp, bold colors. Many report intense out-of-body experiences, an altered sense of time and space or ego dissolution (“ego death”).

Studies have indicated long-term effects in people who use DMT. Some report a reduction in symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Subjects in an observational study showed significant reductions in stress after participating in an ayahuasca ceremony, with effects lasting through the 4-week follow-up period.

Subjects also showed improvements in convergent thinking that were still evident at the 4-week follow up. People who consume DMT generally chronicle improvements in their overall satisfaction of life, and claim they are more mindful and aware after the experience.

It’s important to note that dying from ayahuasca is rarely reported, but that doesn’t rule out the risk. It’s also illegal in the states, explaining why groups flock to Peru to visit licensed ayahuasca retreats or why technologists buy DMT on the dark web to avoid detection.

For those considering a DMT journey (and we don’t recommend it based on the illegal nature and health risks), it’s critical to gain a full understanding of the potential risks prior to consumption.

For more reading:

This story was first published here in June, 2019.

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