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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

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Business News

Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?

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Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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