You can help your elderly loved one protect themselves from identity theft by using these simple precautions. The Federal Trade Commission addresses the issue in the video on the page at this link.
The FTC recommends these best practices in their publication "Identity Theft: What to Know, What to Do" (See the "Files" section below.)
- Read your credit reports. You have a right to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Order all three reports at once, or order one report every four months. To order, go to annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
- Read your bank, credit card, and account statements, and the explanation of medical benefits from your health plan. If a statement has mistakes or doesn’t come on time, contact the business.
- Shred all documents that show personal, financial, and medical information before you throw them away.
- Don’t respond to email, text, and phone messages that ask for personal information. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information this way. Delete the messages.
- Create passwords that mix letters, numbers, and special characters. Don’t use the same password for more than one account.
- If you shop or bank online, use websites that protect your financial information with encryption. An encrypted site has “https” at the beginning of the web address; “s” is for secure.
- If you use a public wireless network, don’t send information to any website that isn’t fully encrypted. Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall on your computer.
- Set your computer’s operating system, web browser, and security system to update automatically.
The FTC also gives advice about "identity theft protection" services - what they can and cannot accomplish - and low cost alternatives.
How to read a credit report: See these instructions from AnnualCreditReport.com.
How Care is There Geriatric Care Management Can Help
If you’re a long distance caregiver, it can be difficult to assist your elderly loved ones with all the steps that will help them stay secure. Here are some of the things we can do to help:
- Help your loved one sign up for and read free credit reports
- Review bank, credit card, and account statements for unusual activity that could signal identity theft
- Shred mail that shows personal, financial, or medical information
- Help your loved one deal with suspicious emails or phone calls
- Help your loved one work with a computer technician to keep computer security up to date
Contact Care is There Geriatric Care Management by calling 800.434.1633 or Info@CareisThere.com.
- Federal Trade Commission
- Reconciling Bank Statements – Help Your Elderly Loved One
- Help Your Elderly Loved Ones Pay Bills and Manage Mail