Identity theft is a risk that can lead to elder financial abuse. In recent years, Marin and other California counties have seen elder financial abuse on the rise. An integral way of protecting yourself and your loved ones against financial elder abuse is to stay informed about how to identify and prevent identity theft.
Elders are often targets of identity theft – according to the Federal Trade Commission, they make up over 20% of reported victims of identity theft – because of several conditions. Scammers and perpetrators of identity theft will often attempt to take advantage of seniors who live alone or are dependent on others because they believe that these elders will be least suspecting of financial abuses committed against them. For this reason, instances of identity theft and other financial elder abuses may take months or years to be uncovered.
In order to be proactive about preventing identity theft for yourself and elderly loved ones, it is essential to monitor and be aware of the status of the elder’s financial accounts and personal information as regularly as possible. The digitization of financial information and accounts makes elders seem like an “easy target” for technologically savvy perpetrators of elder abuse. It is important to realize and remember that information you release on the Internet is not always private and may be accessible to other individuals who seek to steal personal information. Never release your social security number other bank account numbers and passwords over the Internet.
Other tips to consider include contacting your financial institution and asking them to warn you of any suspicious behavior or activity in your accounts. In Marin and throughout California, many banks and financial institutions have pledged an obligation to inform their senior clients and their families of any suspicious activities in their accounts, and their doing so has helped bring elder abuse criminals to justice. If you are an elder who is concerned about your own ability to monitor your bank statements, you may seek help at the institution itself.
Another helpful action to take against identity theft is keeping your personal information private and in a safe place. Do not release your credit card numbers, social security number, government-ID numbers, or other financial account numbers to caregivers or other individuals who may fraudulently use it for their own advantage. Additionally, consider shredding or cutting up financial statements and documents before throwing them away.
Victims of Identity Theft
If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft in California, contact a nationwide credit report agency (TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian) to place a fraud alert on your account. If possible, notify any and all financial institutions of the fraud alert and your suspicions of identity theft. You should also change any passwords or pin numbers of your existing accounts, and close any accounts that seem suspicious or tampered with. When opening new accounts, be sure to use your new passwords and do not disclose this information to others.
The Evans Law Firm focuses on elder financial abuse and practices in Marin and San Francisco Counties, The Bay Area, and throughout California. If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of identity theft, contact the Evans Law Firm at 415-441-8669 for a free and confidential consultation, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.