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Don’t forget the elderly this holiday

by Neal O'Farrell on November 25th, 2010

I’ve written many times on this blog about the particular vulnerability of the elderly to identity theft, and of the importance of doing everything we can to protect this vulnerable group. Every day I come across heartbreaking stories of seniors and the elderly being fleeced by friends and strangers alike. But unlike other victims, the elderly often don’t have the knowledge or ability to respond to identity theft, report the crime, and stop the stealing.

Just last week I read the story of an employee of a real estate firm who befriended a 90-year-old man who had turned to that company to help sell his home. The alleged thief initially ran some errands for the victim, but when she gradually gained the victim’s trust she scammed him out of an estimated $300,000, through forged checks and unauthorized withdrawals.

She was only caught when a bank teller grew suspicious and alerted authorities. Which is exactly my point. The elderly can only be protected against criminals if others step up and speak up.

If you have an elderly relative or neighbor, and have regular contact with them, there are a number of signs that you should watch out for that could suggest the individual is the victim of identity theft or other fraud:

• Sudden inability or failure to pay everyday bills like utilities.

• Unusual confusion specifically over money and funds.

• A new person in the individual’s life, and especially one who obtains control over the elderly person’s finances or assets.

• An attempt by someone new to isolate an elderly person from people they would normally or regularly come into contact with.

• Any spike in calls or letters from creditors or debt collectors.

Plea Change Expected In Elderly Theft Case

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