Anyone can be targeted for fraud, but seniors and the elderly are at an increased risk of being taken advantage of by fraudsters looking to make a quick buck and caregivers or family members who scam the senior citizen. Sweepstakes scams, fake business investment opportunities, and internet schemes are among the most common ways older individuals are wronged. If you are elderly or have an elderly relative you are looking out for, it is imperative to plan ahead and take steps to protect them from fraud and identity theft.
If your loved one is victimized by fraud or identity theft, you may have an opportunity to bring the fraudsters to justice with help from a dedicated identity theft litigation attorney with Sharmin & Sharmin P.A. There are specific steps you can take to demand justice and ensure your elderly relative is better protected going forward. Here is more about some of the most common types of scams the elderly fall victim to, why they are common targets, and how to protect seniors from identity theft.
The Elderly Are More Vulnerable to Identity Theft
Floridians across the state are dealing with identity theft and fraud every day. However, senior citizens are far more likely to be taken advantage of. This is because, at this stage of their lives, they are often considered among the wealthiest citizens, with impressive investment portfolios and sizable retirement funds. They are also more likely to utilize services provided by the government and spend time in hospitals and doctor’s offices– industries reportedly highly targeted, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.
The elderly are more likely to face cognitive issues, have trouble recognizing schemes, and be unable to make good decisions for themselves. Seniors are also more susceptible to fraudsters alleging to have kidnapped grandchildren and demanding ransom, usually posing as IRS agents or law enforcement officials.
Senior Identity Theft Takes Many Forms
The elderly are often targeted for several types of schemes and frauds. The FTC reports several types of fraud senior citizens and their family members should be particularly cautious of, including:
Medical Identity theft
Military identity theft
Credit card fraud
Estate identity theft
Robocalls and phone schemes
If you believe you are being taken advantage of or scammed, or even suspect your elderly relative is being victimized, you may have an opportunity to take action and prevent continued emotional distress and financial losses. Working with an experienced identity theft attorney is often an excellent way to secure your loved one’s identity and protect against any additional damages.
Preventing Identity Theft in Seniors
There are many ways you can take steps to protect your loved one and avoid senior identity theft. Ensuring your elderly relative is aware of potential schemes and has a healthy skepticism of certain situations can make all the difference. We often recommend adding contact information from anyone who calls regularly to your relative’s cell phone contacts or number log so the elderly will know if a call is legitimate. Remember, scammers do not typically leave voice messages, and if the call is urgent and valid, the caller can leave a message and wait for a callback.
Remind your senior family members that government agencies will not call them or send them emails. They will only ever call when they have important information to discuss. You may also want to break your elderly relative’s habit of using paper checks. These checks contain valuable banking information that can be used by schemes to steal from your loved one. Instead, suggest they start using direct deposit for retirement and social security deposits and may bill payments online.
Another important lesson to teach your relatives is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If your elderly relative is ever threatened over the phone, this is also a sign of fraud or a scheme. Here are some of the best ways you can help protect your family member from elder identity theft and fraud:
Check Your Credit Report Annually
The elderly should check their credit reports annually. Every citizen can get one free credit report from each of the major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax for review. You should also carefully monitor all bank accounts, estate plans, and credit card statements for unauthorized transactions, changes, or purchases.
Destroy Confidential or Sensitive Documents
Take steps to destroy all confidential and sensitive documents that you may have virtual copies of. These should never be thrown away without shredding, as schemers have been known to go to great lengths to use tossed-out credit reports, checks, and receipts to their advantage.
Never Carry Important Documents
Do not let your elderly family members carry around their social security numbers or Medicare cards. Store them in a secure location and only have them carry other identifying information when necessary.
What to Do if You Are a Victim of Senior Identity Fraud
If you or a loved one has been tricked or had their identity stolen, it is necessary to report your concerns to the appropriate government agencies. You may want to file a police report with local authorities, notify the FBI and the IRS, and file a complaint with the FTC. These agencies can then decide whether to investigate and prosecute the schemers. Then, with help from your identity theft litigation lawyer, you can explore potential opportunities for justice through the Florida civil court system.
Get Help From Florida’s Top-Rated Identity Theft Litigation Law Firm Today
While there are things you can do to protect yourself or your senior relative, professional fraudsters continue to find a way to adapt and develop new schemes that target the most vulnerable populations. The best you can do is be prepared and gear up to take action if you or your loved one are taken advantage of. An experienced Florida identity theft lawyer with Sharmin & Sharmin P.A. can review the circumstances of your case and determine whether you have grounds for civil action.
Fight for justice and the financial compensation you deserve. The schemer may also face criminal consequences on top of your civil action against them. Take steps to hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law when you contact our legal team by phone or through our quick contact form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.
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