Identity Theft and Alzheimer’s: Steps Caregivers Should Take to Protect Their Loved Ones
Tips from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
(December 5, 2018)- With identity theft an even greater threat during the holiday shopping season, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is informing the more than 5 million American families living with Alzheimer’s disease about steps they can take to protect their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease from scams, fraud and identity theft.
“Because of the way Alzheimer’s disease affects memory and cognitive capabilities, individuals living with the Alzheimer’s are at higher risk of being exploited. Fortunately, family caregivers have the opportunity to help protect them and reduce their risk of becoming a victim,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s president & CEO. “Being mindful of the following steps can go a long way toward keeping your loved one, and their finances, safe from harm.”
Family caregivers should consider the following steps to help protect their loved one and their finances:
- Talk with your loved one: Remind them not to give out personal information over the phone, especially their social security number, bank information or Medicare ID number. Also remind them not to open the door to strangers.
- Monitor credit card accounts and bank statements: Regularly check credit card and bank statements for suspicious or abnormal charges or withdrawals. Notify bank and/or credit card companies immediately of unauthorized activity
- Consider minimizing spending limits on credit cards and cancelling unneeded cards: Lower spending limits help lessen the damage a potential identity thief can cause. If a card is no longer being used, consider cancelling it; this helps prevent someone from using it without authorization.
- Review credit reports: Federal law entitles consumers to one free copy of their credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) per year. Reviewing credit reports are an important way to see if someone is opening up accounts or applying for credit in your loved one’s name. Visit annualcreditreport.com to learn more.
- Add the person’s phone number to the federal government’s Do Not Call Registry: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a “Do Not Call” Registry which can help reduce telemarketing phone calls and the chances that someone may be able to get your loved one’s personal information over the phone. Visit donotcall.gov to register a phone number or to check if it is already on the registry.
- Report scams immediately: If your loved one becomes a victim of identity theft or a consumer scam, report it immediately to your local law enforcement agency. You may also wish to contact your state’s Attorney General’s Office and your state’s consumer protection agency.
Wherever possible and practical, keep your loved one involved the process.
Families who have questions can contact AFA’s Helpline at 866-232-8484 and speak with a licensed social worker. The Helpline is open 7 days a week: 9 am to 9 pm (et) on weekdays and 9 am to 1 pm (et) on weekends.