Fraud Alerts Can be Particularly Useful for Seniors and Their Caregivers
The recent security breach at the Equifax credit reporting agency exposed extensive personal information on approximately 143 million Americans. Computer hackers gained access to consumers’ names, addresses, social security numbers, and dates of birth from Equifax files, creating serious potential problems for consumers.
Seniors can be at particular risk to identity theft; therefore, a monitoring plan should be put in place by caregivers to review financial accounts (checking, savings, investment, retirement), credit cards, as well as credit report data for unusual transactions, including the opening of new and potentially unauthorized accounts.
There are 3 major credit reporting agencies:
Equifax Phone (800) 685-1111
Experian Phone (888) 397-3742
TransUnion Phone (800) 888-4213
Consider contacting the credit reporting agencies to place a credit or fraud alert. The fraud alerts notify vendors that you may be a victim of identity theft and vendors should verify the borrower or purchaser is actually you. For seniors, a fraud alert can also cover issues related to aging, including erratic activity like skipped check numbers, missing recurring deposits such as pension checks, or unusual investment products that may signal issues. Fraud alerts only last 90 days and must be renewed.
- Order and review your credit report annually so you may identify and address anything that looks unusual or is not recognizable as your activity.
- Review your bank and credit card activity monthly, if not weekly, for unusual activity.
- Do not give out personal information, either over the phone or on the internet.
- Avoid emails and links within emails (even if it looks authentic). If you are not sure, call the company and ask for verification that the email is authentic.
- Change passwords on accounts regularly.
- Visit the Equifax website to learn more.
If you have any questions about the above material, or wish to speak to an attorney, please contact Pfalzgraf, Beinhauer & Menzies, LLP at (716) 204-1055. Pfalzgraf, Beinhauer & Menzies, LLP has offices located at 455 Cayuga Road, Suite 600, Buffalo, New York 14225.