By Claire Schlaman
Special to The Signal
As families grieve over the loss of a loved one, scammers have increasingly taken advantage of potential vulnerabilities created by obituaries, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
By scanning through local obituaries and finding information on the deceased, criminals will contact grieving family members to get money and personal information.
Prosecutors reported finding elder individuals are at the highest risk for such scams, as health conditions can play a role in their awareness and susceptibility to fraud.
To prevent this fraud from happening, representatives with the District Attorney’s Office suggested taking these steps to make sure you and your family are safe from obituary scammers:
Only necessary details should go in the obituary
Criminals will contact families through the information within the obituary. To prevent being contacted, leave out family survivors, birth dates of the deceased and home addresses.
Do not answer unsolicited calls
Scammers are known to demand families pay off a debt that the deceased person left behind. Unknown callers should not be given any financial or personal information.
Do not accept items from unknown messengers
Criminals will deliver items that they claim were purchased by the late family member, requiring payment immediately. Do not give money nor accept packages from any unknown individual.
If you believe that you or someone you know is being scammed, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately — the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station can be reached at 661-255-1121 — or call 1-877-477-3646 to report elder abuse.