Identity Theft a Concern for Seniors

Ask the Experts by Carolyn Van Dorn

Q: My mom has recently moved into a nursing care facility and I have power of attorney over her finances. Do I still need to be concerned about identity theft for her?

A: Absolutely! Identity theft tops the list of consumer complaints that are reported to the FTC and other enforcement agencies every year. This type of crime has no age boundaries. Social security numbers (regardless of age of holder) can be used the thieves to apply for government benefits, open bank accounts and apply for a loan or utility service.

Some consider the senior population to be easy targets due to the fact they are normally financially stable and less likely to be opening new lines of credit. Most seniors also do not routinely check the status of their credit report, which allows for a lower probability of fraud detection.

There are options available for you to protect yourself and your family. You can learn how to monitor your history on your own or register with a credit monitoring service. If you choose to use a service, take the time to do a little research to verify it is a reputable company.

Engaging a credit monitoring service in advance of an issue can eliminate the headache of clearing up damaged credit due to identity theft. The FTC also has free materials that you can order directly to help you protect yourself or clear up an issue. You can find the materials at I have also ordered several of them in bulk quantities that can be picked up from my office. Visit the News and Articles tab at to view what I have available and for a list of helpful web links.

Carolyn Van Dorn, CDP, is the Director of Client and Employee Relations at Nursing Unlimited in Grosse Pointe Woods. She has worked in the medical field since 1984 with a goal of educating families and caregivers about the services available to help them maintain a balanced home while caring for a loved one in need. Contact Carolyn at 313.642.1122 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Nursing Unlimited is a member of The Family Center's Association of Professionals.

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