Elder Law: How to Know When Your Identity Has Been Stolen
Individuals work a lifetime to build assets for financial peace of mind during their golden years, but unfortunately identity theft is a very real concern. No one wants to be a victim. For protection, preventative steps can be implemented to alert one to odd charges, and there are limitations on personal liability. Elder abuse lawyers are available to advise in these matters.
- Make it a habit to read bank statements on a regular basis. Review the charges for anything out of the ordinary, and inquire as to any unusual charges.
- Optimize your bank account. Set up an “alerts” feature beyond a typical amount. Have the banking institution text or email if a charge is more than expected. Maintain accounts above a predetermined amount so that, for example, if the checking account falls under $1000, the institution sends a reminder.
- Limit individuals who have access to the banking account and credit cards. No one should be able to access funds and credit lines except for the owner and designated individuals. The fewer people who have access, the less that can go awry.
- If there are concerns about deeds or financing statements, you can visit the County Clerk and check these records for free. Complimentary checks are also available at the Motor Vehicle Division.
If it is difficult to set up the accounts or to read statements, go to a personal banker or a trusted family member or friend to help with the set-up and regular maintenance of the accounts. Use technology to make life a little easier.
Handling a Fraudulent Charge
- Notify banking institutions or credit card companies that the charges were made by another. They will initiate an investigation. With the credit card companies, personal liability is limited to $50. In the case where a card was “lent out”, the primary card holder is fully liable.
- File a report with the police. Record the name and number of the officer taking the statement. Follow up with the case.
- Change all PINS and charge accounts, and notify any financial institution with which you do business that you have been a victim of identity theft.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission, Social Security Agency, Medicare, postal inspector, internet and telephone vendors and credit monitoring agencies.
Elder abuse attorneys can provide guidance. Contact them in the case of identity theft.