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Your loved one's identity has been stolen. Now what?

It's the news no caregiver ever wants to get--an elderly loved one has been the victim of a data breach and his identity has been stolen. It's a common occurrence these days.

So what happens next? Generally, thieves try to use the stolen data as quickly as possible to do one of these things:

  • Sell the information to other criminals.

  • Withdraw money from a bank account.

  • Make credit card purchases.

  • File a fraudulent tax return for a refund using victims’ names.

If someone you're caring for has been victimized by a data loss, follow these steps to minimize the effect of the theft:

  • Try to determine what information the thieves compromised. Compromised information may include emails and passwords, or more sensitive data, such as name and Social Security number.

  • Take advantage of credit monitoring services when offered by the affected organization.

  • Place a freeze on credit accounts to prevent access to credit records. It varies by state, but there may be a fee to place a freeze on an account. At a minimum, victims should place a fraud alert on their credit accounts by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus. A fraud alert isn’t as secure as a freeze, but it’s free.

  • Reset passwords on online accounts, especially those of financial sites and email and social media accounts. Use different passwords for each account. Some experts recommend at least 10-digit passwords, mixing letters, numbers and special characters. Victims may also wish to consider using a password manager or app.

  • Use multi-factor authentication, when available. Some financial institutions, email providers and social media sites allow users to set their accounts for multi-factor authentication, which requires a security code, usually sent as a text to their mobile phone, in addition to a username and password.

If you take care of your loved one's tax return, keep in mind that all taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax returns. If you're using a tax filing software product for the first time and you're filing a return for your elderly loved one, you may need their Adjusted Gross Income amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Learn more about validating your electronically-filed tax return.

Questions? Kimbrough Law may be able to help. Just give us a call at 706.850.6910.

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