You Never Know When or How Fraudsters Will Find You
I was recently hired by a client who lives in a nursing home and is on Medicaid. Not long ago, this client received a termination notice from the state Medicaid office because of an IRS notification stating this client had “additional” income.
Can you imagine the terror when your health insurance is terminated?
Fake Tax Return Filed
My client did not have any additional income. What happened is that some criminal filed a false tax return using my client’s Social Security number. They reported fake income presumably to get a tax refund, which initiated a report to Medicaid and caused my client to lose Medicaid coverage until we could clear up the mess.
This case is of great concern to me because of the great number of people, particularly the elderly, disabled or ill who are not savvy to the methods criminals employ to get private information like Social Security numbers, birthdates, financial information and more. Tax fraud is on the rise. When it happens to anyone on a fixed income, which is often the case with the disabled, ill and elderly, the disruption can be devastating.
Growing Complexity Increasing Compromise
Recent research has found that, “despite industry efforts to prevent identity fraud, fraudsters successfully adapted to net 1.3 million more victims in 2017, with the amount stolen rising to $16.8 billion. With the adoption of EMV (embedded chip) cards and terminals, the types of identity fraud continued to shift online and away from physical stores. The complexity of fraud is also on the rise as criminals are opening more new accounts as a means of compromising accounts consumers already have.” The article went on to report that, “For the first time ever, Social Security numbers (35 percent) were compromised more than credit card numbers (30 percent) in breaches.”
Prevention And Protection
Taking identity fraud seriously is a must. For the elderly or ill, precautions must be taken by children or caretakers on their behalf parents or patients.
Identity fraud in general is happening to the senior population more than to other age groups. One article reports that, “Senior ID Theft is the Top FTC Consumer Complaint. … 36 percent of individuals at 50 years of age and older are victims of ID Theft. 49 percent of individuals 50 years of age and older are victims of fraud. For the 12th year in a row, identity theft complaints topped the list.
Once your identity has been stolen, cleaning up the mess can take time. Preventative measures are the best approach. Asset protection, particularly when assets are not unlimited, can be integral to preventing criminals gaining access to your finances.
If you have already been compromised and need help cleaning up the mess identity thieves have created and/or if you want to explore putting stronger asset protection measures in place, call The Estate & Asset Protection Law Firm for a consultation.