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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

What COVID-19 measures do workplaces have to take to reopen?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employers can’t usually do medical screenings – but it’s a little different during a pandemic.

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COVID-19 temp gun

Employers bringing personnel back to work are faced with the challenge of protecting their workforce from COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have issued guidelines on how to do so safely and legally.

Employee health and examinations are usually a matter of personal privacy by design through the American’s with Disabilities Act. However, after the World Health Organization declaration of the coronavirus as a pandemic in March, the U.S. EEOC revised its guidance to allow employers to screen for possible infections in order to protect employees.

Employers are now allowed to conduct temperature screenings and check for symptoms of the coronavirus. They can also exclude from the workplace those they suspect of having symptoms. The recommendations from the CDC also include mandatory masks, distant desks, and closing common areas. As the pandemic and US response evolves, it is important for employers to continue to monitor any changes in guidance from these agencies.

Employers are encouraged to have consistent thresholds for symptoms and temperature requirements and communicate those with transparency. Though guidance suggests that COVID-19 screenings at work are allowed by law, employers should be mindful of the way they are conducted and the impact it may have on employer-employee relations.

Stanford Health Care is taking a bold approach by performing COVID-19 testing on each of its 14,000 employees that have any patient contact. They implemented temperature scanning stations at each entrance, operated by nurses and clinicians. The President and CEO of Sanford Health Care said, “For our patients to trust the clinical procedures and trials, it was important for them to know that we were safe.”

Technology is adapting to meet the needs of employers and identify symptoms of COVID-19. Contactless thermometers that can check the temperature of up to 1,500 people per hour using thermal imaging technology are now on the market; they show an error margin of less than one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit. COVID-19 screening is being integrated into some company time-clocks used by employees at the start and end of each shift. The clocks are being equipped with a way to record employee temperatures and answers to a health questionnaire. Apple and Google even collaborated to bring contact tracing to smart phones which could help contain potential outbreaks.

Fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing are the three most common symptoms of COVID-19. Transmission is still possible from a person who is asymptomatic, but taking the precautions to identify these symptoms can help minimize workplace spread. This guidance may change in the future as the pandemic evolves, but for now, temperature checks are a part of back to work for many.

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Business News

Technology that may help you put the “human” back in Human Resources

(BUSINESS NEWS) Complicated application processes and disorganized on-boarding practices often dissuade the best candidates and cause new hires to leave. Sora promises to help with this.

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Even in a booming economy, finding the right applicant for a role can be a drawn-out, frustrating experience for both the candidate and the hiring manager. Candidates submitting their resume to an automated HR system, designed to “seamlessly” integrate candidates into their HRIS accounts, face the interminable waiting game for feedback on whether they’re going to be contacted at all.

Ironically, this lack of feedback on where a candidate stands (or even if the resume was received at all) and a propensity for organizations to list roles as “Open Until Filled”, overwhelms the hiring manager under a mountain of resumes, most of which will not be reviewed unless there is a keyword match for the role. And if they do somehow manage to see the resume, studies indicate that in less than 10 seconds, they’ll have moved on to the next one.

The problems don’t end there, however. Once the candidate and hiring manager have found one another, and the HR team has completed the hire, the dreaded phase of onboarding begins. During the first few days of a new job, a lack of effective onboarding procedures—ranging from simple tasks like arranging for technology or introductions to a workplace mentor—can be the cause of a significant amount of employee turnover. Forbes notes that 17% of all newly hired employees leave their job during the first 90 days, and 20% of all staff turnover happens within the first 45 days.

The reason, according to Laura Del Beccaro, Founder of startup Sora, is that overworked HR teams simply don’t have the bandwidth to follow up with all of those who are supposed to interact with the new employee to ensure a seamless transition experience. Focusing on building a template-based system that can be integrated within the frameworks of multiple HRIS systems, Sora’s focus is to set up adaptable workflow processes that don’t require the end-user to code, and can be adjusted to meet the needs of one or many employee roles.

In a workplace that is becoming increasingly virtual, out of practicality or necessity, having the ability to put the “human” back in Human Resources is a focus that can’t be ignored. From the perspective of establishing and expanding your team, it’s important to ensure that potential employees have an application experience that respects their time and talent and feedback is provided along the way, even when they might not be a fit for the role.

Take for example the organization who asked for an upload of a resume, then required the candidate to re-type everything into their HRIS, asked for three survey responses, an open-ended writing task, a virtual face-to-face interview, *and* three letters of reference—all for an entry-level role. If you were actually selected for an in-person interview, the candidate was then presented with another task that could take up to two hours of prep time to do—again, all for an entry level role.

Is that wrong? Is it right? The importance of selecting the right staff for your team can’t be overstated. But there should be a line between taking necessary precautions to ensure the best fit for your role and understanding that many of the best candidates you might find simply don’t want to participate in such a grueling process and just decide to move on. There’s a caveat that says that companies will never treat an employee better than in the interview process and in the first few weeks on the job—and that’s where Sora’s work comes in, to make certain that an employee is fully supported from day one.

Bringing on the best to leave them without necessary support and equipment, wondering at the dysfunction that they find, and shuffled from department to department once they get there creates the reality and the perception that they just don’t matter—which causes that churn and disconnect. Having your employees know that they matter and that they’ll be respected from day one is a basic right—or it should be.

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Business News

Trader Joe’s doesn’t want to change its controversial brand names

(BUSINESS NEWS) Branding has gone through a major change recently and many companies are agreeing to shifts, but Trader Joe’s thinks its names are fine.

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trader joes branding

In the last few months our country has gone through a complete re-evaluation of their societal impact with their branding names. Companies that have been strong for neigh on a century are changing their names to accommodate more socio-intelligent content. Whether its from real change or from following the societal trends, the gambit of following the socio-economic climate is becoming a common theme. However the world turns next, the changes we are seeing now is creating a new world of products and status quo.

One company, though, is standing strong with their branding. Trader Joe’s, a grocery store chain, is sticking to its guns, despite some rather vocal push back. A petition aimed at the stores “racist” branding name habit has started making its way through the internet. Currently the petition has crossed the 5000-signature threshold and is getting close to its 7500 goal on change.org.

The habit of using phrases like “Trader Jose” or “Trader Ming’s” in their international food products is the main point of contention. The people behind the petition state that using names like this makes those items appear to be exotic or out of the norm like the original/traditional brand Joe – which at its very basic definition is truthful. The branding technique brands something as different than the original.

Initially a company spokesperson stated that the names were in the process of being changed, but less than a week later their tone changed. Trader Joe’s now states that while they “want to be clear; we disagree that any of these labels are racist.” They will not be changing things based on petitions. Also they report that “decades ago, our Buying Team started using product names, like Trader Giotto’s, Trader Jose’s, Trader Ming’s, etc.

We thought then – and still do – that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures”. According to their current reporting they have also reached out to their customer base and supposedly many customers reaffirmed “that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended – as an attempt to have fun with our product marketing”.

Personally, I see two major issues here. First, they are literally talking about a branding that is decades old; habits that were comedic then are now seen in a very different light. Just like an organism, society grows and changes too. If they can’t come up with new gimmicks to make themselves more popular and fresher, then they’ll most likely fall by the wayside as it is. The other issue is that their polling was specifically geared towards their current buyers; they asked their own customers whether they found this offensive. Can we all just take a collective deep breath and say biased please? Whether or not they decide to stick to their guns here is going to lay some groundwork in the future.

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