When Your Elderly Loved One’s Identity is Stolen

It’s the news no caregiver ever wants to get. How can you minimize the damage when an elderly loved one’s identity has been stolen? How are Life Care Planning Law Firms uniquely positioned to help?

Identity theft is no joke. That’s why it’s so important to understand identity theft and to know what to do if it happens to an elderly loved one.

How can you tell if a loved one’s identity has been compromised? “Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts, merchants refusing your loved one’s checks, debt collectors calling about debts that don’t belong to your loved one, unfamiliar accounts or charges on your loved one’s credit report are just a few of the many possible clues,” said Laurie Adamshick, an attorney at the Elder Law Practice of Rulon & Adamshick, LLC, a Life Care Planning Law Firm in Honolulu and the only Life Care Planning Law Firm in Hawaii.

If someone you're caring for has been victimized by identity theft, how can you minimize the damage? Here are some tips:
• Call banks and financial institutions to notify them about the theft.
• Report the theft to local police and to identitytheft.gov.
• Place a freeze on credit accounts to prevent access to credit records. It varies by state, but there may be a fee to place a freeze on an account. At a minimum, victims should place a fraud alert on their credit accounts by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus. A fraud alert isn’t as secure as a freeze, but it’s free.
• Reset passwords on online accounts, especially those of financial sites and email and social media accounts.
• Use multi-factor authentication, when available.

Ultimately, prevention is the best defense against identity theft and Life Care Planning Law Firms, known for their long-term relationships with older clients and their family caregivers, are well positioned to assist. “Helping clients protect their financial well-being is part of the comprehensive support that comes with a Life Care Plan,” said Laurie. “We teach clients and their caregivers about common scams and the importance of monitoring account statements and credit reports. We make them aware of the need for shredding personal information, using a secure mailbox that is emptied daily and putting other protective measures in place. For clients who are cognitively impaired or physically frail, we connect them to vetted daily money managers who can help with bill paying and account monitoring. We also make them aware of call blocking devices to eliminate scam calls that can be put on home phones, caregiver debit cards that can limit and track purchases made by family or professional caregivers, and online financial monitoring services available for a fee.”

Caregiving is demanding enough, even without a crisis like identity theft. No one knows that more than Laurie, who stepped away from the practice of law for several years to serve as full-time caregiver for her late parents. “When you work with a Life Care Planning Law Firm, you’re hiring a built-in support system that can help you address every problem and make good decisions during the long-term care journey,” added Laurie. “I would have given my right arm for that kind of network when I was caring for my parents. When it comes to preventing—or responding to—identity theft, there is much that a Life Care Planning Law Firm can do to help.”