Edmonton police warn of providing too much information in obituaries

Edmonton police are warning people to be cautious about how much they include in a family member’s obituary.

Police said they are investigating a case where one person is accused of using obituary information to commit around 110 instances of fraud since July 2018.

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“It’s an awful thing to have to think about when your loved one has just passed away,” Edmonton Police Service Det. Liam Watson said. “But unfortunately, information like a birth date or details about an employer may be all a criminal needs to steal your family member’s identity.”

Police said suspects use obituary information to contact former employers or utility providers to gain more personal details about the deceased, then use the information to commit identity fraud.

Edmonton police were involved in three other investigations in 2018 connected to information gathered from obituaries. Police said the deceased identities were used to fraudulently rent a condo, sell a vehicle, open a telephone account and rent a vehicle.

One of the deceased’s vehicles was also stolen, which contained a driver’s licence, debit card, SIN card, Alberta health card and two cellphones, police said.

Police are encouraging families whose loved one have passed away to take several steps:

  • Do not use the birth date of the decease in an obituary
  • Do not include employment history or home address
  • If acting as an executor for an estate, alert credit bureaus immediately, Canada Revenue Agency and Service Canada, financial institutions used by the deceased, as well as utility and cellphone providers

The warning comes as part of fraud prevention month.

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