How to protect yourself from 'obituary piracy' after a loved one passes

Obituary for Kansas man who died of COVID-19 skewers those who refuse to wear masks
Posted at 4:42 PM, Mar 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-06 20:46:32-05

LANSING, Mich. — Attorney General Dana Nessel is cautioning Michiganders of “obituary pirates” looking to prey on those grieving the deaths of loved ones.

Nessel says those who post too much information online about deceased family members and friends may inadvertently be creating opportunities for scammers.

We’re told scammers may use that information to buy even more information from the dark web. That information can be used to open new bank accounts, submit false tax returns and other fraudulent activity.

“It is almost beyond belief that there are people who are so unethical that they would exploit another’s loss for profit,” says Nessel. “Because these individuals do exist, we need to be mindful that the impulse to share special traits about a deceased loved one online can open up avenues for deception and scams.”

Furthermore, the state says fraudsters may pose as government officials, collection agents or insurance representatives to solicit personal information.

The public is urged to watch out for the following red flags:

  • Unexpected bills and credit card purchases occurring after a loved one’s passing.
  • Phone calls from people claiming the recipient’s loved one has unpaid bills, taxes or other unfinished business.
  • Phone calls that pressure the recipient to pay right away via gift cards, cash cards or wire transfers.

For contacts from genuine creditors, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website for advice.

Also watch out for fake obituaries containing donation links. Share the real one as soon as possible to avoid confusion with fakes.

Anyone who believes their deceased loved one was targeted by an obituary pirate may file a report with the Consumer Protection Team.

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