Dead woman's ID stolen; why authorities won't touch it

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Millions of people’s identities are stolen every year, but here’s the twist, a few million are dead.

The family of Elizabeth Dodge buried her in Glendale 21 years ago.

A few years after Dodge’s death, her identity was stolen.

“It's kind of like grave digging, grave robbing in way. The deceased should remain deceased,” said Dodge’s sister, Sherron Edwards.

Edwards said a family friend admitted to stealing her sister's ID in order to bury her own criminal past.

“I was shocked. She handed me her birth certificate,” said Edwards.

When Edwards tried getting authorities to right a wrong, she says she got nowhere.

“It's not her name. It's not hers. It's not for her to take. That was my sister's name. Now she's gotten a criminal record and she was arrested for theft and now my deceased sister has a criminal record and she had no criminal record whatsoever,” said Edwards.

Private attorney Dwane Cates said these crimes are low-priority for prosecutors.

“They have to pick and chose those which they believe the prosecution can do some good, restore a victim and get restitution,” said Cates.

Dodge is one of 2.5 million robbed of their name from the grave each year.

According to ID:Analytics, ID theft is rampant among the dead.

“If I put myself in the mind of a criminal, if I've had this much trouble bringing to justice the fact that this has been going on, then why wouldn't somebody want to use a deceased person's identity rather than the living? Because apparently you can get away with it, because there are no consequences,” said Edwards.

According to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, in 2011 they prosecuted one of these cases.

However, the case included murder, fraud and forgery charges.

Experts say notify the three credit bureaus of a loved one's death to help prevent ID theft.