Arkansas authorities investigate reports of scammers trying to steal identities from funeral homes

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Ark. — Dealing with death and burying a loved one is often the most difficult time of a person’s life, but Arkansas authorities have begun to see an increasing number of scams that start at funeral homes.

“You have bad actors contacting funeral homes, claiming to be a loved one, saying that they need the social security number of the deceased,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “And then they are using that social security number to open up credit.”

Scammers posing as a grieving husband or wife or a family member trying to obtain a recently deceased person’s social security number, then taking their identity for all it’s worth, until the government shuts it down.

It’s becoming a problem in Arkansas and could be an issue in other states as well. But there are extreme measures funeral homes go to, hoping to keep private records safe.

Roller-Citizens Funeral Homes in West Memphis hasn’t had anyone try this on them yet, and they claim, it wouldn’t work.

“They’re kept in an alarm, burglary, fire-proof safe room made within the building,” said manager Jason Johnston. “Anybody that has taken Ethics 101 in funeral service should not be giving that information unless they have proof to do so.”

“This is a new scam,” Rutledge said. “So, we’re hopeful that through education efforts, making sure they’re aware of this scam, that they do not give out that personal information.”

Authorities say con artists don’t leave much of a trace if they can steal a deceased person’s information, so catching them can be difficult.

Caution is essential, even during the emotional grieving process.

“We encourage family members to be diligent as they are going through the grieving process. They have so much on their minds already, it’s unfortunate, but we need them to be diligent,” Rutledge said.

If you’re concerned about a scam, related to a deceased loved one, you’re asked to contact law enforcement immediately.

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