Three reasons you need to delete deceased records as we move into the New Year

A new study by Salesforce reveals that marketing-led growth is now a priority for 90 per cent of organisations.  With organisations facing the toughest ever climate, combined with an accelerated shift towards digital transformation over the past 10 months, data has unsurprisingly been identified as one of the most important enablers of this growth.  

However, the most cited barrier to driving this growth is data mismanagement– 56 per cent of respondents consider it the top challenge. Data mismanagement can be caused by a number of factors, including data integration and analysis obstacles, as well as a lack of data quality.  

Data quality is critical. The old adage is true – rubbish in, rubbish out. With more organisations focusing their marketing activity on customer retention maintaining relationships is key. It is proven that there is a direct correlation between data quality and retention – the better the data the stronger the relationships.  And that’s not to mention the legal aspect of data quality. As a result of GDPR organisations now have a legal responsibility to maintain the data held in their databases – this includes ensuring files are up to date, deleting anyone that exercises their right to be forgotten and also removing the records of people that have passed away.  

Often the removal of deceased files is overlooked, as mistakenly, it is widely believed that these files simply lie dormant. However, for organisations the very presence of this data, even for a short time can actually be very risky. There are three clear risks, which include: 

  1. Data breach: The deceased data can be stolen and used by identify fraudsters to commit deceased identity fraud, which is now one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK. Deceased data is coveted by identity fraudsters because the data has a greater shelf life. Fraud using the personal information of people that have passed away tends to go undetected for longer than fraud using the data of people that are still alive meaning that the value of the data is much higher.  
  2. Brand damage: If deceased files are not removed it can mistakenly be used to communicate with someone that has passed away causing distress to the family and friends of the deceased. There are literally hundreds of examples of this reported in the news every year. And in June it was reported that a grieving mum that received a letter in the name of her deceased son from Manchester City Council is suing them for the distress they have caused her and other parents that had lost their children. 
  3. Biased AI: Finally, if the data remains in the database it can be processed and used to inform AI-powered algorithms, which could ultimately lead to a biased model. 


Data is a very powerful tool, but data decay is a very real threat to its effectiveness. For information about a cost-effective way to ensure that your data does not include the records of people that have passed away, please don’t hesitate to get in touch