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You may monitor your credit report, shred your mail and keep a watchful eye to make sure that your identity hasn’t been stolen. But do you also consider identity theft when a loved one passes away? Unfortunately, the risk for identity theft does not stop at the end of life. According to a study by ID Analytics, more than 2.5 million deceased Americans are victims of identity theft each year.

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) says that this crime, called ghosting, is often committed by thieves accessing the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. The file contains personal information of about 86 million people and can be accessed by organizations such as financial institutions and credit companies for a fee.

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