You thought this could never happen to you or your aging loved one: the heartbreaking loss of a hard-earned life savings as a result of a scam.
But the growing incidence of senior fraud is putting many older adults in harm’s way. It’s important to know how to move forward if fraud does occur.
Steps to Take if You or Someone You Know is Scammed
- Close your accounts. If you notice any accounts under your name or that of an aging loved one that have been tampered with or opened without consent, close them immediately.
- Contact the police. File a report with your local police department. If the theft did not take place in your area, file a report with the police from the area where you believe the theft took place.
- Get a copy of the police report. You may need that documentation to support your claims to credit bureaus, creditors, debt collectors or other companies. If you are unable to obtain a copy of the police report, be sure to get the report number.
- Eliminate fraudulent new accounts. If a new account has been opened without you or your aging loved one’s knowledge and consent, ask the company with which the account has been opened if it has a fraud department.
- Initiate a fraud alert. Place a fraud alert on the credit file that has been compromised as well as review the credit report. This will prevent a thief from opening any more accounts in you or your loved one’s name. You should contact the major credit bureaus. If you place a fraud alert with one credit bureau, that credit bureau is required by law to contact the other bureaus.
- Follow-up. After a fraud alert is included in the credit history, you or your aging loved one is entitled to receive a free copy of his or her credit report from each of the credit bureaus.
Important Documents for Victims of Scams
The following are important documents to keep on hand if you’ve been scammed. If your aging loved one won't be able to keep the originals of some of these important documents, it is important that you make a copy.
- Police report
- Identity Theft Affidavit
- Bills with fraudulent charges
- Documentation of accounts opened in your name without your consent
- Copies of letters sent to credit bureaus and creditors
Credit bureau contact information:
- Equifax- 800-525-6285
- Experian- 888-397-3742
- 800-680-7289 (U.S.)
- 800-663-9980 (Canada)
If you or your loved one is a victim of fraud, acting quickly is key. Begin working through the fraud checklist above as soon as possible to help minimize the damage.