As recently as a few hundred years ago, grave robbing was a real problem for those trying to protect the sanctity of the recently deceased.
Would you believe that, today, there is such a thing as ‘virtual grave robbing’?
It’s true. Identity thieves have developed sophisticated methods of impersonating individuals who have recently died, using their online personas, social media profiles, and other identifying characteristics to defraud their good name.
These unscrupulous criminals often monitor obituaries and other public records to locate the names and birth dates of those who’ve died, before going about the business of assuming their identities and effectively stealing from the dead.
A new service that manages the electronic records of deceased individuals is a potential solution to this problem, and as it turns out, there’s more than just one benefit to using it.
One Person, Dozens of Digital Fingerprints
Think about the sheer volume of websites that have your name, email address, street address, or other personal information. Add to that the numerous apps on your phone or tablet which may also collect the same data. When you total all this up, it’s common for a single person to have dozens of ‘digital fingerprints’ out in cyberspace. So, what happens to all of this information after someone has died?
To tackle this problem, a startup called Legacy Concierge, LLC was formed by serial entrepreneur Betsy Ehrenberg. Legacy Concierge is a cloud-based service that collects all of the sensitive financial and personal information about an individual and, upon the death of that individual, notifies the websites, banks, and other companies about the passing of the person in question.
This service has three main benefits:
- Notifying a website like Facebook or Twitter about the death of one of their users helps to thwart identity thieves. Social media sites are rarely if ever notified immediately upon the death of their users. Legacy Concierge, LLC provides this as a service for their customers, giving family members and heirs peace of mind.
- Digital assets are protected and secured for inheritance, where applicable. Things like store credits, account balances, airline miles, and other digital assets can add up to be quite significant in value. Using a company to manage these electronic records removes the burden on loved ones to do this on their own. This also makes it easier for estate lawyers to complete the process of distributing inherited assets.
- Reminders, notifications, and solicitations addressed to the deceased are reduced or eliminated. It can be frustrating to continue seeing ‘Happy Birthday’ emails or mail solicitations addressed to loved ones who have passed. Each of these pieces of communication can be a reminder of the loss of the individual.
Legacy Concierge, LLC reaches out to the companies that send these communications and notifies them of the death of one of their customers, effectively putting a stop to the unnecessary emails, sales brochures, or other notices.
How Does It Work?
Those interested in preserving their digital assets and making the cleanup of their digital lives easier after their death can opt in to the Legacy Concierge service themselves. When this is done, an ‘electronic vault’ containing all of their digital fingerprints is maintained in the cloud, managed by Legacy Concierge.
During this onboarding process, successors or fiduciaries that are assigned by the individual are named. Then, when the person dies, the successor notifies Legacy Concierge, and the company begins the process of reaching out to all of the various companies and websites contained in the vault and notifying them of the death.
Because security is such a cause for concern, Legacy Concierge uses highly encrypted connections and redundant storage servers to protect the sensitive information it collects from its customers. So, those who enroll in this service don’t have to worry about their sensitive information being leaked or stolen.
How Much Does It Cost?
This service has a price tag of $250 per year, maxing out at $750 over a three-year period. The company provides an a-la-carte service, too, which can be used just for social media profile elimination ($99), or insurance company notification and resolution services ($250).
So far, Legacy Concierge, LLC has seen most of its success in signing up law firms for their service. While they do have some individuals who’ve registered for their service, estate planning firms and fiduciary services companies make up their ideal customer profile.