Preventing Identity Theft in the Elderly

The physical and emotional well-being of seniors takes center stage in elder safety–but their financial wellness is often forgotten. Identity theft is a violation against vulnerable individuals, such as elders committed by caregivers, relatives, or hackers. If you suspect any signs of elder abuse in seniors, you should contact an elder abuse attorney.

It’s important to understand that identity theft in the elderly is a big threat and can go unnoticed. Unfortunately, even very close family members have also been known to indulge in identity gain for selfish gain. An elder abuse attorney can help you if you suspect an elder is a victim of identity theft.

Identity Theft Explained

Identity theft refers to obtaining personal information from another person without their consent to commit fraud. Personal information includes name or social security number, D.O.B, Y.O.B, and others. Fraudsters use the personal data acquired illegally to commit frauds or crimes, such as, obtaining birth certificates, applying for credit facilities, and filing taxes among others.

Seniors or elders are the most vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. A recent report on elder abuse stated that roughly 20% of American seniors– 65 and over, experienced financial fraud in the past year alone. The financial loss associated with financial fraud among elders is estimated to be over $36 billion each year. The reasons why elders are more vulnerable than any other age group can include:

  • Older adults are frequently targeted because they’re less likely to be having overdrafts or debts than young account holders;
  • Their credit rating is often good increasing the chances of credit approval;
  • Elders rarely monitor their accounts or bank statement and they might not detect any unauthorized transactions easily;
  • Seniors often need help when accessing various services, such as medical services, which involve filing paperwork. Old age comes with a share of challenges, such as impaired vision, which forces the elder to seek help when filling the forms and exposing their details in the process.

Protecting Elders against Identity Theft
Elder Law Attorney Jeffrey J. Downey provides the following tips on avoiding this problem:

  1. Educating elders about online scams and identity theft
    Old people will not fall for identity theft and online scams the more they’re informed on these subjects. Dirty Dozenof scams and websites are greatresources for information on identity theft and online scams. Elders should also be constantly reminded to “think twice when the deal is too good.”
  2. Ensure their finances are safe
    Fraudsters use mail, telemarketing, or email to prey on elders because providing identification or sending money may be required and that’s why you should keep an on their accounts and finances to intercept fraudulent activities before it’s too late. Update passwords and make sure that your loved one is not giving information out over the phone to strangers.
  3. Keep their financials out of reach
    Ensure any document containing an elder’s personal or financial information is securely stored in a deposit box or home safe. You can also shred bank receipts or any other document containing personal data and it’s not in use. Make sure any wills are secure and preferably with the lawyer who drafted the document.
    Besides the above three ways of protecting elders against identity theft, the AARP’s Identity Theft Protectionprogram guarantees total identity theft protection and credit report monitoring for AARP members and their families.
  4. Review monthly bank statements
    Obtain access to monthly accounts and contact any vendors who appear suspicious
  5. Limit the amount of cash and other valuables in the house.
  6. Consider using an identify theft serviceLink to top 10 identify theft services;(

CALL TO ACTION – Act now to protect your rights

If you have  reason to suspect financial exploitation call our office for a free consultation.  You may also want to call adult protective services in your county.

The Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey handles elder abuse and exploitation cases in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC. No attorney’s fees are charged unless there is a recovery.  If you can’t come to our office, we will come to you.

Contact Information:

The Law Office of Jeffrey Downey, PC
McLean, Virginia Office Location
8270 Greensboro Drive, Suite 810
McLean, VA 22102
Phone: 703-564-7318
Fax: 703-883-0108 Website:
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