Is Your Parent at Risk for Identity Theft?
Hilary and Greg Eldridge
With the prevalence of the internet and the use of mobile devices, many argue that life has never been as accessible and convenient as it is now. This can offer a wide variety of benefits, particularly to people such as seniors who can take advantage of these resources to help manage life tasks that may become challenging due to limited mobility. With this convenience, however, can also come risk. One of these risks is identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 18% of the more than 2 million complaints that they receive each year are related to identity theft. Of those, nearly 40% occur among older adults. As a family caregiver, it is important that you not only understand identity theft, but recognize any increased risk factors that your parents may have. This will enable you to take steps to protect them, recognize if they have been victimized, and help them to manage this issue in the best way possible.
Some of the risk factors for identity theft include:
- Being over the age of 60. Simply being older puts to your aging parent at increased risk for identity theft. Studies have shown that this age group is much more likely to be trusting of others and less likely to be wary of suspicious behavior. Seniors are also less likely to be familiar with how to use resources such as the internet, email, social media, and mobile devices in ways that protect them, and are accustomed to receiving offers and contact that can be used as a vehicle for fraud, such as offers of insurance or recommendations for medication or treatments.
- Having good credit. People with good credit have an easier time getting credit cards, loans, and other financial products that are attractive to those who may wish to steal their identity. Because your parent is less likely to be applying for these financial products themselves, it may also be more difficult to detect when such accounts have been opened or are being abused.
- Cognitive functioning decline. If your senior suffering from cognitive functioning decline or memory loss such as is related to Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, they are at increased risk for identity theft. A senior with these challenges is not as likely to be able to detect suspicious behavior and is more likely to go along with instructions such as giving someone over the phone their financial or personal information if they feel that they know the person or that the person has official business.
- Receiving paper statements and bills. If your parents still receive paper statements and bills as opposed to emailed or online versions, they are putting themselves at greater risk. Criminals often go through trash to find these documents and utilize the information on them to steal identities.
If you have been looking for ways to improve your aging parent's quality of life and support a better lifestyle as they age in place, now may be the ideal time for you to consider starting elder care for them. An elderly home care services provider can be with your parent on the schedule that is right for them, ensuring that they get the level of care that they need while also keeping you at the forefront of their care routine. This means providing individualized services tailored to your parent as an individual that address their needs while also encouraging them to live a lifestyle that is as healthy, safe, comfortable, and independent as possible as they age in place. These services can include safe and reliable transportation, running errands, assistance with personal care tasks, mobility support, meal preparation, companionship, and more.
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