First and foremost, it is good for any caregiver to study up on all things caregiving. This means food, medicine, medical practices, money issues and everything in between. It is all ensnared in my motto of With Age Comes Respect.
By reviewing senior data such as The S.A.L.T. Communicator, I can learn protective methods for things like identity theft. These are suggestions of protection that I reviewed and follow myself:
- Review credit report periodically about your elder’s credit. Sometimes you may learn of an issue that you had not realized before. As a caregiver, this is beyond the scope of the job – unless the caregiver happens to have power of attorney. This is to protect the elders from the caregiver dipping into funds, etc. that they have no business getting into. To learn more about the free copy of credit from the three national reporting agencies, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Keep receipts from all debit and credit card purchases and encourage your senior to do the same. If a receipt comes with a purchase, advise your senior family member to not leave it behind as it contains information that they will not want to get out such as the debit or credit card number. It is best to keep all receipts in a purse or wallet until which time you or your elder returns home so that the receipts are not stolen from the car either. Match receipts to monthly debit or credit card statements, then the receipts can be shredded if no longer needed.
- Before you toss financial records of any type, make certain that you shred them first! Any records, containing any type of financial data such as debit or credit card receipts, statement, cancelled checks or free offer of credit received by mail should be shredded. The most effective shredding method is by utilizing a cross-cut shredder. You would be surprised what people will do to get their hands on personal data!
- Keep a low profile with your personal information. Don’t give our social security numbers, pin numbers, account numbers, etc. People that ask may be national telemarketers or others salespeople. In order to keep elders safe, here are a couple of suggested tips:
- Register with the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry. You can do so by phoning 888.382.1222 or by going onto the internet and registering your elder’s number online at www.donotcall.gov.
- Write to the Direct Marketing Association in order to remove your name from most national mailing and e-mailing lists and most telemarking lists. Their address is 1120 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036-6700. You can also do this online at www.dmaconsumers.org.
- Remove name from marketing lists by registering online with the Direct Marketing Association at www.optoutprescreen.com.
- Opt out of sharing financial information with other organizations by not allowing your bank, investment firm, insurance company or credit card companies to share your data.
- Do not list your senior’s name in the telephone directory.
- Never provide personal data over the phone as all legitimate businesses will already have the data. Advise your seniors not to give out their information either or have a check-and-balance system where you have alerted financial companies to verify with you (you have to be on their accounts) in order for an organization to withdraw funds or credit or debit a charge to their account.
These are but a few suggestions to keep seniors safe and sound. It is not right that others take advantage, but we cannot possibly stop them all. Start at home and protect those you love first.