You hear about it regularly: identity theft and fraud are practically household names these days.
The issue of identity theft has become so prevalent in recent years that the U.S. government has made it a federal crime, punishable by imprisonment of up to two years for general identity theft crimes and up to five years for terrorism-based identity theft crimes.
There are many types of identity theft that impact consumers—the most common being credit card fraud, employment or tax-related fraud, phone or utility fraud, and bank fraud (according to the FTC).
Seniors, especially those receiving elder care as they tend to live on their own, are susceptible to becoming fraud victims due to their age, sometimes impaired cognitive abilities, their trusting nature, and the fact that oftentimes they have savings that they use to sustain their cost of living.
Here are a few ways that you can help your loved one receiving elder care to keep their information safe from those who prey on seniors.
Clean up and secure paperwork and files.
Does your parent or loved one have old files laying around that may have their personal information in plain sight? Take some time to help clean out old drawers, closets, and files. Find a safe to store and organize important documents in a family organizer binder considering taking them to your home or storing them in the best fireproof document bag for safe keeping.
Purchase a shredder.
Before you pitch old documents, invest in a small, portable shredder that can be stored in an area where it will be used frequently. Ensure that their personal information never leaves the house by shredding anything with identifiable information on it such as name, address, date of birth, account numbers, and their social security number.
Consider a monitoring company.
There are many companies that you can enroll in to monitor your senior’s credit information. This will help stop credit card fraud by notifying you of fraudulent purchases immediately, putting a halt to ongoing charges that can often rack into the thousands if unnoticed.
Talk to your senior.
Have a conversation with your senior parent or grandparent about the importance of keeping their information safe and secure. Talk to them about ways that people might try and prey on them so that they can be vigilant too.
Get the caregivers involved.
Remind the caregivers to be mindful of ID theft and talk to them about your preferences with your loved one’s information. Encourage them to shred anything that has their name on it, and to be conscious of any odd phone calls your parent or grandparent may take.
Beware of unsolicited phone calls and door visits. Put up a “no solicitation” notice on the door, and be sure your senior knows not to give any personal information to anyone that comes to the door or calls them on the phone.
Just because your loved one is receiving elderly care doesn’t mean you can’t find helpful ways to keep their identity safe.
If you or an aging loved one is considering elder care in Fairfax, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.
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