9 Ways To Protect Your Aging Parent From Identity Theft

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April 17, 2017

From an article in Forbes Magazine. This is scary. My mother-in-law actually received her application for Medicare back from Riverside County which had been obviously opened. Whoever sent it back had merely used the metal clip without securing the lip. The metal clip was broken and the paperwork was out of sequence. I immediately signed her up for IDShield. I felt it was worth the $9.95 each month.

When Peter’s father became too infirm to live independently, Peter took on the job of moving him into an assisted living facility. Using his power of attorney, Peter then began to dig into his father’s financial records. What he found shocked him. His father had become an unsuspecting victim of identity theft.

Peter’s father, who rarely left his house, was enrolled in several discount memberships for vacations, restaurants and other services. Each charged his dad’s credit card $40 to $90 per month. Even worse, Peter learned that more than $20,000 had been stolen from his father’s bank account through the bank’s online bill payment service. The checks went to an untraceable Post Office box, leaving little chance of recovery.

If your mom or dad wants to donate to a charity, either they or you should look up the address on the organization’s website and your parent can send a check.

3. Monitor your parent’s bank and credit card statements. It’s a good idea to check account activity at least once a quarter. Look for charges from unfamiliar vendors and locations, and watch for recurring subscription fees, like the ones Peter found in his father’s records.

Your parent won’t be responsible for fraudulent charges, but the faster these problems are reported, the less damage the thief can do.

4. If your parent spends time online, be sure the computer has the latest browser version and that automatic updates are enabled. Also, you should turn off JavaScript and Adobe Flash; they are rarely needed and have become a primary attack vector for malware.

5. Explain the potential danger of the “remember my password” browser feature. Most browsers now have that feature, but it’s best not to use it on financial services sites and ones with health care records. A secure password manager with strong encryption is a better bet.

6. If your parent emails, explain how to practice “safe email.”Phishing attacks work by tricking recipients into believing that messages come from trusted sources when the actual intent is to capture personal information. Clicking on links from unknown senders is an invitation to malware and identity theft.

Show your mother or father how to determine the actual sender of a message by looking at the email address, rather than the name in the “from:” field. For instance, a message from Google isn’t real unless the email address ends in “google.com.” Instruct your parent never to send a password, credit card number or any other sensitive information via email. Instead, it’s best to type in the name of the trusted website and login.

7. Explain the danger of “free” email offers. Those emails congratulating the recipient for winning a drawing or offering a free vacation? At best, these are bait-and-switch tactics. Most are just scams. Make sure your parent knows to never respond to them.

8. Tell your mother or father to be careful about sharing information on social networks. Advise your parent against sharing anything in a profile that could be used against them by a crook, including a telephone number, address and even an alma mater a common basis for security challenge questions).

If your mom or dad is a frequent social network user, check his or her privacy settings. You’ll want to be sure no one outside of the immediate circle of friends or family can see any personal information.

9. Help your parent opt out of unnecessary stuff. Does anyone really like unsolicited offers of credit cards or insurance? OptOutPrescreen.com can expunge a person’s name from most of those lists in one fell swoop.

Finally, you can dramatically reduce the number of telemarketing calls your mother or father gets by signing up at Nomorobo. It won’t stop unscrupulous hucksters, but it will cut down on their annoyance.”

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Phil Liso, Contact
(562) 322-7376