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Precautions to take when writing a loved one’s obituary to prevent scammers from getting too much info

DETROIT – Investigators believe personal information put in a obituary was enough for high-tech thieves to get cash from a grieving family.

The family went from making funeral arrangements to talking with police. They’re sharing their story with the goal of preventing this from happening to anyone else.

When Gary Douglas died in January his family was devastated. His wife Nancy, daughter Beth and her husband David were focused on planning the funeral and making sure everything was just right.

They had no idea cyber criminals would lock in on Douglas’ obituary and use the information written about family and loved ones to launch a high-tech crime. Exact birth dates, maiden names and locations were all used to carry out the crime. Things escalated quickly.

The thieves were able to first port their phone then hack accounts. Police believe they compiled just enough information from the obituary to pose as a family member and make changes to get cash.

Instead of including exact dates in an obituary just include the birth year instead of the month and day. Don’t include any addresses, middle names, maiden names and in some cases keep things simple and respectful.

The family’s bank was willing to work with them, but that’s not always the case, which is why being extra cautious is key.

If you’re using a funeral home to help with arrangements you may want someone there to review the obituary. They are professionals and can help put together a fitting tribute that isn’t too personal.


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