Identity theft is a form of elderly abuse and the saddest part of all is that family members, caregivers and strangers may take advantage of the elderly in an effort to gain their hard earned money and credit report.
When most people think of elderly abuse they think of neglect, physical, sexual or psychological abuse. There is another form of elder abuse or abuse of senior citizens; that of “using the money or resources of an older person without their knowledge or consent to benefit yourself or another person.” Identity theft falls into that category, as family members, caregivers and strangers may take advantage of the elderly in an effort to gain their hard earned money and credit report.
Why is the elderly targeted for identity theft and financial crimes?
-In some cases they may have more money, cash reserves, home equity, and other resources that others as they may have been working for retirement all their lives.
-Many seniors are not “technologically savvy” so may not be aware of many of the scams that are based around Internet usage.
-Since seniors may not be actively “using” their credit report they are less likely to check it regularly and monitor it carefully.
-Retirement home staff, home caregivers and family members may take advantage of their position of trust as well as the information readily available to them.
What forms of abuse may identity theft and other financial scams take?
-phony charity solicitation
-so called “prize” money awards where they must provide information that can be used later against them
-check cashing fraud
-credit card fraud
-forging signatures to benefit in a financial way (cashing checks that came to the elderly)
The saddest part of all about identity theft, financial scams and frauds against the elderly is that far too often it is committed by someone in a position of trust, like a caregiver or family member.
True crime stories of elderly identity theft . . .
Teresa Julie Robbins of Hinesville, GA was arrested for financial identity theft and elder abuse. Approximately 43 victims have been identified, with all of them ranging in age from 60-100.
Birmingham, AL authorities were investigating Jacqueline Anne Lumpkin, a CNA (certified nursing assistant) who took personal information from a nursing home patient and rang up more than $5,000 in goods and services. She was charged with elder abuse, neglect and identity theft.
A resident in a Boulder, CO nursing home was recently taken advantage of by her son and granddaughter as they stole over $16,000 dollars from her through the use of a power of attorney. They used this power to benefit themselves. The granddaughter was arrested for 92 counts of identity theft and forgery.
A 100 yr old man in Florida was taken advantage of by his self employed caregiver who is accused of stealing his identity to set up cable television and phone number accounts. The caregiver was charged with elderly exploitation and using someone’s ID without consent.
In Anchorage, Alaska a 57 yr old man plead not guilty to 17 counts of identity theft, fraud and criminal impersonation. He used the information of an 82 yr old man to get 7 credit cards on which he charged $34,000 in merchandise.
How can you protect yourself and those you love from financial scams and identity theft? Find out how in our next article 15 Tips to Protect Senior Citizens from Elder Abuse Identity Theft.