New Fraudulent Scheme or AMEX system mixed up Identity?

Old Jul 29, 19, 12:58 pm
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New Fraudulent Scheme or AMEX system mixed up Identity?

My neighbor just showed me 2 letters sent by AMEX on her AMEX card opened since 1983.

Both letters have correct name and address of the recipient.

The first letter was in mid June, informing her, that AMEX learned from a 3rd party information that she has passed away. If she was not passed away, please called AMEX at such and such number.
She called and the rep wanted her SSN. She gave the last 4 only. The rep said a letter with instruction would come later on how she could get a proof of being alive from SS office.
That letter has never come.

The second letter was in mid July, informing her that since she was dead, AMEX now canceled her accounts and her estate could contact AMEX on any questions.
Well, my neighbor called and was told a letter had been sent to her in the interim Of course my neighbor has not ever received such.

She was then given instruction over the phone on how to get a "still alive" proof from the SS office then mail it back to AMEX, with the full SSN on it. She is not happy about this but has gone thru the motion since. She will call AMEX next week to find out what the status is.

The most puzzling thing is, just HOW AMEX gets informed by a "THIRD PARTY" that she has passed away? Yes, she is a senior, receiving SS benefits but none of the financial institutions she has accounts with, from credit cards to bank accounts, have ever informed her that she "has passed away".

Anybody has ever read about such scenario?
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Old Jul 29, 19, 1:12 pm
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Likely reported by one of the bureaus.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 1:15 pm
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There is a SSA master death file. Does Amex use that in some direct or indirect way? I would assume so as financial companies and credit bureaus do seem to get informed after SSA is informed.

What does the personís account indicate about the account when logging in on Amexís website?
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Old Jul 29, 19, 1:19 pm
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Originally Posted by Happy View Post
The most puzzling thing is, just HOW AMEX gets informed by a "THIRD PARTY" that she has passed away?
It turned out that relying on the first party to inform AmEx had quite an underwhelming success rate.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 1:25 pm
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
There is a SSA master death file. Does Amex use that in some direct or indirect way? I would assume so as financial companies and credit bureaus do seem to get informed after SSA is informed.

What does the person’s account indicate about the account when logging in on Amex’s website?
My neighbor does not use online banking. She is still on paper trail and for her other cards such as Citi and BofA, she literally goes to the banks to pay her bills at the counter in person. None of her accounts in other financial institutions indicated she is deceased.

SSA office does not show she is dead either. So that should rule out the source of info AMEX got, is from SSA.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 1:38 pm
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Is she calling the number on her card? Or the number on the mystery letter? You should never, never call a number on a mystery letter or email. Call the number on the back of the card and ask for the status of the card.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 4:35 pm
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Master SSDI

You can find at least one article in the NYT or WSJ describing the nightmare of someone entering the wrong social security number on a death certificate information form. That info ends up on death certificate and is transmitted to Social Security for the their master death index. Undoing an error seems near impossible if your read about the horror stories. So this is not fraud but designed to prevent fraud of a criminal action of someone assuming the identity of a dead person.
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Old Jul 30, 19, 5:19 pm
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Originally Posted by captaindomon View Post
Is she calling the number on her card? Or the number on the mystery letter? You should never, never call a number on a mystery letter or email. Call the number on the back of the card and ask for the status of the card.
The number at the back of her card, because her card stopped working, i.e. account canceled by AMEX as she is deemed deceased. That was when she was told a letter had been sent to her requesting SSA issued document. Said letter never arrives. The AMEX rep told her what to do next, during the phone call she made to AMEX after her card stopped working.
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Old Jul 30, 19, 6:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Centurion View Post
You can find at least one article in the NYT or WSJ describing the nightmare of someone entering the wrong social security number on a death certificate information form. That info ends up on death certificate and is transmitted to Social Security for the their master death index. Undoing an error seems near impossible


That may all be true, but that doesn't apply in this situation. If SSA thought the person was dead, then she'd have trouble with many other financial institutions, as well as SSA benefits stopping. None of that is reportedly happening.
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Old Jul 30, 19, 10:28 pm
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
That may all be true, but that doesn't apply in this situation. If SSA thought the person was dead, then she'd have trouble with many other financial institutions, as well as SSA benefits stopping. None of that is reportedly happening.
Exactly. None of her other credit cards / bank accounts have the "AMEX" issue. Therefore it is very puzzling where AMEX gets its info from "3rd party". Her SSA benefits are not interrupted, as well as her medical coverage from the job at NYC school district she retired from.
That is why I ask the wisdom of this forum, whether this is a new type of fraudulent scheme that targets the seniors or AMEX has a serious ID mix up in its system.

IIRC cases of AMEX mixed up cardholders' IDs have been reported here from time to time. In some cases it were very egregious, affecting the cardholders in much bigger scale than what my neighbor has experienced.
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Old Jul 30, 19, 10:37 pm
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Has she pulled all three major credit bureau reports for free ?
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Old Jul 31, 19, 6:30 am
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Originally Posted by Happy View Post
She called and the rep wanted her SSN. She gave the last 4 only.
This seems a little silly. One obvious way this whole scenario could happen is that Amex has the wrong SSN listed for her on her account, and the person associated with that other SSN died. She called Amex, Amex attempted to confirm the entire SSN, but the cardholder didn't want to do that. Yet, she is very distraught over the whole thing. I understand people wanting to be cautious over their SSN, but some amount of reason has to be applied: when dealing with an institution that already has it (hopefully, accurately), and you're sure you're dealing with them directly (such as by calling the number on the back of the card), and the whole reason you're calling them might be caused by an SSN mix-up, it seems to me that confirming the entire SSN makes a whole lot of sense.
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Old Jul 31, 19, 8:25 am
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Indeed it's possible that a card issuer has a mismatch between the SSA number and a person, one that could persist for even forever until the number shows up on the SSA master death file and/or the number from the file gets tied to a name.

Originally Posted by Happy View Post
Exactly. None of her other credit cards / bank accounts have the "AMEX" issue. Therefore it is very puzzling where AMEX gets its info from "3rd party". Her SSA benefits are not interrupted, as well as her medical coverage from the job at NYC school district she retired from.
That is why I ask the wisdom of this forum, whether this is a new type of fraudulent scheme that targets the seniors or AMEX has a serious ID mix up in its system.

IIRC cases of AMEX mixed up cardholders' IDs have been reported here from time to time. In some cases it were very egregious, affecting the cardholders in much bigger scale than what my neighbor has experienced.
A growing number of financial intermediaries use reputation searches (and firms for such) to figure out with whom they may want to cancel business-client relationships. I haven't heard of this involving online searches for people who have died, but it wouldn't surprise me if there eventually turns out to be some of that too. There have been situations where the underlying incident that causes a financial intermediary to sever a relationship also causes or comes with other hassles -- whether or not this latter dynamic is relevant to your acquaintance's situation.

See how banks use Ayasdi, ComplyAdvantage, and TransparINT. It's part of the cover-your-behind done by financial firms who want to show they are "strong" on KYC rules and anti-money-laundering rules. But some companies like this have been asked by card issuers/lenders to do things that increasingly look like help them "predict the future" or about more than looking just at the client's past with the company.

Last edited by GUWonder; Jul 31, 19 at 8:45 am
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Old Jul 31, 19, 12:27 pm
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
This seems a little silly. One obvious way this whole scenario could happen is that Amex has the wrong SSN listed for her on her account, and the person associated with that other SSN died. She called Amex, Amex attempted to confirm the entire SSN, but the cardholder didn't want to do that. Yet, she is very distraught over the whole thing. I understand people wanting to be cautious over their SSN, but some amount of reason has to be applied: when dealing with an institution that already has it (hopefully, accurately), and you're sure you're dealing with them directly (such as by calling the number on the back of the card), and the whole reason you're calling them might be caused by an SSN mix-up, it seems to me that confirming the entire SSN makes a whole lot of sense.
I have to give her a break, being over 85 years old, she obviously is not as clear-minded as folks on this forum. Yeah, she is a silly senior.
Just remember we would all get to that age some day. I would be grateful if I would still stay sharp-minded. lol.

Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Indeed it's possible that a card issuer has a mismatch between the SSA number and a person, one that could persist for even forever until the number shows up on the SSA master death file and/or the number from the file gets tied to a name.

A growing number of financial intermediaries use reputation searches (and firms for such) to figure out with whom they may want to cancel business-client relationships. I haven't heard of this involving online searches for people who have died, but it wouldn't surprise me if there eventually turns out to be some of that too. There have been situations where the underlying incident that causes a financial intermediary to sever a relationship also causes or comes with other hassles -- whether or not this latter dynamic is relevant to your acquaintance's situation.

See how banks use Ayasdi, ComplyAdvantage, and TransparINT. It's part of the cover-your-behind done by financial firms who want to show they are "strong" on KYC rules and anti-money-laundering rules. But some companies like this have been asked by card issuers/lenders to do things that increasingly look like help them "predict the future" or about more than looking just at the client's past with the company.
The card in question is a personal card. She does not own any business card. So the above seems to be irrelevant.
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Old Jul 31, 19, 12:30 pm
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Originally Posted by Centurion View Post
Has she pulled all three major credit bureau reports for free ?
She doesn't and does not care either. She just gets annoyed to find her card not working and she has to go thru motions to get that cleared. She sent in the SSA document a week ago and had not contacted AMEX yet, planned to give AMEX a couple weeks to straighten it. I told her to call back this week to make sure AMEX has received the SSA doc. Also if she is not getting anywhere, she should ask to talk to Executive Office which happens to be in our town, about 7 miles away.
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