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Grave robbing cyber style - how to prevent it

Don't offer a lot of information in the obituary.
Stealing from the dead through what's called obituary surfing.

ID=22902975CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Stealing from the dead through what's called obituary surfing.

It sounds about as low as you can go. But cyber thieves have found a new way to steal even more.

Robert Dennis was a Pulitzer Prize winning veteran Charlotte Observer reporter.

His daughter Darby says, "For me, dad was a very special individual."

Dennis was a detail oriented and careful writer-- right up until the very end, leaving specific instructions for his funeral service and obituary last month.

"When he wrote the instructions, he put it in all caps, leave everything as I've written it!"

His obituary was published in the very paper he worked for. It appeared on a Sunday and he was buried just two days later.

"The day of the funeral and all of the preparations that you go through and then the wake afterwards, highly distracted everybody was focusing on dad and the stories and the fun and the family and the memories, not whether or not his banking account was secure."

Someone broke into Dennis's bank account-- the family believes using information easily gleaned from the obit he wrote for himself.

"Oh, very definitely it's very public when somebody passes away and you put an obituary in the paper. It's almost an invitation for hackers to be able to go in and steal electronically from the individual who has passed away."

Darby, who is the executor of her dad's estate, noticed someone had changed the contact information on his bank account.

"I think if I had not spotted that, had not been paying attention, his account would have been emptied. I'm convinced."

A spokeswoman for the Identity Theft Resource center says this is happening all the time and says the best way to prevent it - don't offer a lot of information in the obituary.

Ask newspapers and funeral homes about making it password protected online so that only people you want to see it can see it and definitely don't give any ages-- not of the deceased or their children. The less information, the better.