If an elderly family member has been scammed, it’s critical that they report it, and right away. It’s a horrible tragedy to fall victim to financial fraud, and there are a few key steps your loved one must take immediately, as advised by the state attorney general’s office and the Better Business Bureau. You can assist your loved one with these steps to make sure they do everything correctly and urgently.
- First, your family member must contact the police. They must file a report with the police department where the theft took place or where they believe it took place.
- Assist your senior in getting together any and all documentation that may help support their case to credit bureaus, debt collectors, etc. Be sure that they also get a copy of the police report including the report number.
- Make sure they close any accounts that were tampered with or any new accounts that may have been created under their name. File a fraud report with their bank’s fraud department, and call all institutions that the fraudulent activity occurred in and file fraud reports with them too.
- If your loved opens any new accounts to put their remaining money in, make sure they add extra security, new PINs and new passwords.
- Insist they file a federal complaint with the FTC, which in conjunction with FBI has an Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse. The FTC will help with the identity theft investigation by collecting information and sharing it with the police, banks, credit bureaus, etc.
- Your loved one must also place a fraud alert on their credit file, which will stop the thief from being able to open any more accounts in their name. If they place a fraud alert with one credit bureau, it will have to contact the other two by law to place fraud alerts on the credit reports with those bureaus as well. To be sure this happens however, make sure your senior contacts all three major credit bureaus themselves.
- Assist your family member with requesting copies of their credit reports from all three major credit bureaus after the fraud alerts have been placed, which will be free. After they have been received, review them with your loved one and highlight all fraudulent activity.
- Suggest your loved one also contacts the Better Business Bureau by going to www.bbb.org and finding the nearest location to report the fraud to. They also offer helpful information, tips and hotlines for victims of financial fraud. Let your loved one know that they are NOT alone, and there are lots of people, including you, who are going to help him or her get through this.
If you would like to learn more about how we can help deal with and prevent senior fraud, give us a call at (805) 934-0600 or email us via our contact form.