Readers’ corner 6/5/07
Senior citizen identity theft: Daniel R. Ketcham passed this story along to me and I thought it was useful information. This is about a couple, 87 & 89 years of age, living in a local dementia care facility due to the husband’s mild dementia and medical supervision needs. Because his wife enjoys fair mental capacity, they have maintained and enjoyed telephones in their apartment. Recently, the man answered a telephone call and eagerly responded to a inquiry from a “employee” at the Department of Motor Vehicles. (He was most likely hoping they would be sharing the news of making a mistake about having revoked his driver’s license a few years back). The DMV caller stated that she needed to confirm his Social Security number, date of birth and full name. Of course, in his mental condition and the presented authority of the caller, he eagerly gave out all pertinent and private data, despite frequent reminders to never give out this information to anyone. Fortunately, his wife was sitting nearby and overheard his side of the telephone conversation and appropriately shared this overheard conversation with a relative who manages their finances. After calling and a personal visit to the local DMV office, it was confirmed that there was no such person at the DMV. Police were called; financial managers and financial institutions were contacted; all three credit reporting agencies were contacted on-line and a Fraud Alert was filed with each. (This free service runs for only 90 days, according to Ketcham). However, Verizon contacted the children, indicating an application for cellular service had been submitted online within just hours of the appropriation of the pertinent identification data. The Verizon Fraud Department was extremely helpful and provided very useful information. They indicated that generally, the “identify thief” starts with an easy-to-procure cell phone account to establish credit and then begins accumulating other sources of credit, by which to make fraudulent purchases. O.K. readers, never give out this type of information on the phone! Here is how to contact the credit reporting agencies:
• Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; http://www.equifax. com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
• Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); http://www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
• TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; http://www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Dixie Redfearn can be reached at 477-4238 or by e-mail at email@example.com, or by fax at 477-4292.Dixie Redfearn can be reached at 477-4238 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at 477-4292.
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