As if they didn’t have enough troubles to look out for already, senior citizens, especially ones with medical conditions, are a prime target for identity thieves. These thieves can steal information from your loved one’s mail, or even from their medical records or credit cards by standing near them when they check in at a doctor’s office or clinic.
Unfortunately, seniors are a common target because they are often not as careful with their information, and also because the thieves think that no one will notice if an elderly person’s credit is suddenly terrible.
Now that you know of this risk, though (if you weren’t aware of it already), how can you know if someone has stolen your loved one’s identity? Or your senior care aide’s? Or yours? Here are some tipoffs of identity theft. If you notice any of these things, you should call your bank or credit card company immediately to see what is going on.
• You don’t get your bills – Your mother has been getting a bill for her last hospital visit for the past three years, but suddenly, it stops showing up. You know it hasn’t been paid off yet (surgery doesn’t come cheap!), so why aren’t you getting the bill for it? This could be because the identity thief stole your mother’s identity, and the bill went to his address instead of yours. He probably won’t pay it, so you should call the billing company, the post office, and whoever else you need to call to find out where it went so as not to risk being penalized yourself.
• You don’t get your check – The same thing applies for checks. Maybe your father gets a pension or social security check every month, but this month it never came. Don’t just chalk it up to a bad mail carrier – investigate so you can find out if it has fallen into the wrong hands.
• You get a bill you shouldn’t – Missing bills can sometimes be blamed on a slow post office, but getting a charge on your credit card that you didn’t make is a huge red flag. If you didn’t buy that expensive phone and laptop listed on your credit card statement, contact the credit card company right away to find out who did.
• Your checks or credit cards are missing – Don’t think that identity thieves are only high-tech now. Some are still pickpockets at heart, and it is surprisingly easy to steal checks or credit cards from a senior’s purse or wallet if they are focused on other things. Your loved one may even drop their wallet when they are getting out of the car, and the thief will steal it without you ever even noticing. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, so these things don’t happen to you and your loved one.
Identity theft is unfortunately something that is only getting easier and easier in today’s world. However, if you stay vigilant, you can catch it as soon as it happens, or even avoid it all together.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering senior care in Fresno CA, please contact the caring staff at Valley HomeCare.