Elder Abuse 101: Identity Theft

Identity theft can be devastating no matter who is the victim, but older folks living with dementia are especially vulnerable. Scammers often target older folks because they know it is easier to take advantage of someone who may be cognitively impaired, lonely or confused. For caregivers, it is stressful enough just managing the care of someone with dementia, and coping with the emotional toll, without the added anxiety of a crisis like identity theft.

What are the signs your older loved one’s identity may have been compromised? Unfamiliar charges on their credit card, unusual withdrawals from their bank account, and calls from debt collectors are all major red flags. If you notice any of these, it’s important that you take steps to minimize the damage as soon as possible.

Contact your loved one’s banks and inform them about the theft. Have them alert you by phone, text or email if a transaction exceeds an amount you specify. Then, place a freeze on your loved one’s credit report to prevent the scammer from opening a new credit account in their name. File a report with the local police and report the theft online at identitytheft.gov. Finally, reset your loved one’s passwords on any personal online accounts – including any financial and social media accounts – and make sure the new passwords are secure (randomly generated and unguessable). If your loved one doesn’t already have one, consider purchasing a password manager for them.

How can a Life Care Planning law firm help prevent this type of fraud from happening in the first place? Our team of experts knows that prevention and education is the best defense. We make it a priority to educate our clients and their families about common scams, and make them aware of protective measures that can be put in place (such as secure mailboxes, and online financial monitoring services). When you hire a Life Care Planning law firm, you’re not just getting a team of legal experts – you’re getting a support system that will be there to guide you and help you protect your loved one’s financial well-being.

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