The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says that older adults are more likely to be targeted for fraud than younger adults. Seniors are a favorite target because they often have money saved up, are more trusting, and aren’t as likely to report fraud because they worry about being viewed as incapable of caring for themselves. Recovering from fraud, especially identity theft, can be difficult and time consuming. Fortunately, Congress recently passed a law to improve the process.
New Credit Freeze Law
One of the steps experts recommend when a person has been the victim of identity theft is to freeze their credit. A credit freeze involves contacting one of the major credit bureaus to request a freeze on the older adult’s credit report. This prevents people from opening new lines of credit because most financial institutes require a credit report before issuing credit.
Previously, credit bureaus could charge a fee of up to $10 to freeze credit. Now, with the new law signed into place in May of 2018, credit bureaus cannot charge a fee when a consumer requests a credit freeze.
Other Ways to Protect Seniors
While the new law may make recovering from fraud a little easier, it’s best to try to prevent fraud in the first place. There are many ways family caregivers can help to protect older adults from being victims of fraud. Some ways caregivers can protect aging relatives are:
- Talk About Risk: Make sure the older adult is aware of their risk for being the victim of fraud. When you hear about new scams, tell the senior about them so they are kept up to date.
- Use a Shredder: Caregivers should shred papers that contain personal information about the older adult, such as credit card statements and bills.
- Watch the Mail: Don’t leave mail sitting in the older adult’s mailbox for too long. Some thieves steal envelopes from mailboxes hoping to find a check or information that will gain them access to a person’s finances. Caregivers may want to take a daily walk down to the mailbox with the senior to get the mail, giving them some exercise as well as protecting them from fraud.
- Keep an Eye on Accounts: Caregivers who take care of a senior’s finances should watch billing statements for fraudulent charges. If you spot a problem, contact the financial organization immediately to discuss your options.
Hopefully your aging relative will never fall victim to fraud. However, if they do, remember that they can now request a free credit freeze. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website set up to assist consumers affected by identity theft. For more information, visit the site at identitytheft.gov.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering caregivers in Saratoga, CA, please contact the caring staff at Bay Area Home Care. Call today 650-938-4031.