In today’s news you’ll find more and more stories about people taking advantage of the elderly. Whether it’s swindling a senior citizen out of their life savings or stealing the identity of a vulnerable elderly person, abuse against the elderly is rapidly growing.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft against the elderly accounts for as much as 10% of all identity theft cases. However, because of shame or embarrassment, identity fraud against senior citizens may actually be under reported, especially if it is done by someone they know or with their consent.
The Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC), the leading consumer advocate on identity fraud, recently published a list of things to watch for that may alert families and caregivers that something is wrong – including:
- Vulnerable adult has no knowledge of a newly-issued ATM, debit or credit card.
- Discovery of a vulnerable adult’s signature being forged for financial transactions or for the titles of his or her possessions.
- A set of “out-of-sync” check numbers.
- A sudden flurry of “bounced” checks and overdraft fees.
- Transaction review shows multiple small dollar checks posting to the senior’s account in the same month. This could indicate telemarketing or charity scams.
- Large withdrawals from a previously inactive account or a new joint account.
- Abrupt increases in credit or debit card activity.
- Sudden appearance of credit card balances or ATM/debit card purchases or withdrawals with no prior history.
- Withdrawals or purchases using ATM or debit cards that are: Repetitive over a short period of time; inconsistent with prior use patterns.
- Vulnerable adult appears confused about the account balance or transactions on his or her account.
- A caregiver appears to be getting paid too much or too often.
- Significant increases in monthly expenses paid.
- Sudden changes in accounts or practices, such as unexplained withdrawals of large sums of money, particularly with a vulnerable adult who is escorted by a caregiver, family member or “friend.”
- Vulnerable adult acknowledges providing personal and account information to a solicitor via the phone or email.
- Excitement about winning a sweepstakes or lottery.
To learn how you can help prevent identity fraud against vulnerable senior citizens, visit the Identity Theft Assistance website – which offers many resources to help protect against identity theft.