WASHINGTON (5/27/10)--The Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) is offering advice for families, caregivers and financial institutions to help them detect the signs of fraud and identity theft against older or vulnerable adults. “We see heart-wrenching cases where older people are victimized by a con artist or a family member or friend and the anguish that follows,” said ITAC President Anne Wallace. “Financial services employees are often the first to spot fraud and identity theft and alert the authorities. We want to share our experience with the families and caregivers of seniors so they too can be on the lookout for fraud.” The 2010 Javelin Strategy and Research Identity Theft Survey Report, co-sponsored by ITAC, found that consumers over age 65 are the least likely age demographic to become victims of identity theft. However, identity fraud against older Americans may be under reported, especially if it is perpetrated by someone they know or with their consent, said ITAC. Credit unions should note these red flags:
* A vulnerable adult with no knowledge of a newly issued ATM, debit or credit card; * Discovery of a vulnerable adult’s signature forged for financial transactions or for the titles of possessions; * “Out of sync” check numbers; * A sudden flurry of bounced checks and overdraft fees; * A transaction review showing multiple small-dollar checks posting to the senior’s account in the same month; * Large withdrawals from a previously inactive checking or credit account or a new joint account; * Abrupt increases in credit or debit card activity; * Sudden appearance of credit card balances or ATM/debit card purchases or withdrawals with no prior history of these cards; * Withdrawals or purchases using ATM or debit cards that are repetitive over a short time or inconsistent with prior usage patterns; * A vulnerable adult who appears confused about the account balance or transactions on the account; * A caregiver who appears to be getting paid too much or too often; * Significant increases in monthly expenses paid, which may indicate payment of expenses for persons other than the customers; * Sudden changes in accounts or practices, such as unexplained withdrawals of large sums, particularly with a vulnerable adult who is escorted by another who appears to direct the changing activity patterns; * A vulnerable adult who acknowledges providing personal and account information to a solicitor via phone or email; and * Excitement about winning a sweepstakes or lottery.
ITAC is a partner of Intersections Inc., a CUNA Strategic Service provider.