3 Steps to Avoid Identity Theft or Scams

If your spouse, parent or other loved one has dementia or diminished capacity, how can you help protect them from identity theft or unscrupulous lenders?

I recommend three simple steps. First, freeze the loved one’s credit at the three credit bureaus. For instructions on freezing and unfreezing credit histories, go to http://www.clarkhoward.com/news/clark-howard/personal-finance-credit/credit-freeze-and-thaw-guide/nFbL/. Once frozen, credit reports will only be issued when you confirm them with a special password. There may be a charge of up to $10.00 each time you “unfreeze” but people with dementia or cognitive impairment would rarely need their credit unfrozen.

Second, stop the credit bureaus from selling your information to marketers by going to www.OptOutPrescreen.com. Few people realize that most junk mail comes from marketers who purchased their profiles from one or more of the credit bureaus. Opting out should greatly reduce your loved one’s credit card offers and other junk mail. People with dementia are at great risk of accepting these offers and getting into financial trouble long before their family notices any problem.

Third, register your loved one’s telephone number or numbers in the national Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236). Phone numbers of any type can be registered. The FTC bans automatic dial or “robo calls” to cell phones, so cell phones should not need to be registered, but you may do so.


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