Ghosting is a form of identity theft and is given that name due to the fact that the victim of the identity theft is deceased.
Ghosting is committed by stealing a deceased persons information and the thief then uses that information to obtain credit cards, passports, social security cards, and other lines of credit. A person who steals the identity of the deceased is normally very similar in age to the deceased victim.
The identity thief in ghosting takes the deceased persons identity and makes it their own. The thief or “ghoster” takes over where the deceased victim left off. The thief wants the deceased victims information as long as the victim was financially stable, had good credit, and was successful while they were living. When a “ghoster” seeks out a victim they always pick a deceased person whom was not popular or well known. This is done to try to stay under radar and prevent being caught.
The reason an identity thief commits ghosting is because as opposed to a fake identity, which can not be used for social services or for obtaining credit of any kind, a real identity and real social security number makes it a bit more believable. The deceased individual has a social security number that is used to open credit card accounts and what ever else the thief can get away with. With the deceased persons information, a thief can file taxes, report wages, open lines of credit and anything else that a legitimate law abiding citizen can do.
Of course with the technology of today, ghosting is not nearly as easy as it once was. A simple Google search can provide heaps of information about an individual, including if that person is living or deceased. This is the reason that “ghosters” prefer someone who was not very well known and was quite boring in life. Questions arise when a “ghoster” submits credit applications or files taxes after years of the information lying dormant. Criminals can almost always find ways around this, and can and will use their charm or intelligence to be able to continue their use of the deceased victims information.
In the past, the United States would not issue a social security number to anyone until they received their very first paycheck. This made it quite simple for a “ghoster” to take over the identity of young people who passed away. This process is not effective today because social security numbers are now given at the time of birth.
An advantage that “ghosters” also had in the past was the fingerprint system that police officers used. Technology was not as advanced then, but today a fingerprint only needs to be scanned to a computer and the true identity of the “ghoster” will be revealed.
Ghosting may not be as common today but it is still around. The laws against falsely using someones identity, whether said person is living or dead, have became a lot more punishable if the “ghoster” is found guilty in a court of law.
Prison time is also quite lengthy now days for “ghosters” and anyone who commits fraud.