Financial Elder Abuse Alert: New Law Allows Credit Report Security Freezes and Increases Fraud Alert Protections

by David Goldfarb

Financial elder abuse affects untold numbers of older adults every year. Fortunately, under a new law, recently signed and set to take effect September 2018, older adults will have a new weapon in their arsenal in the fight against this type of abuse. The federal Public Law 115-174 amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act to establish a new right for all consumers to implement a completely free “security freeze” of their credit file.

The National Center on Law & Elder Rights calls a security freeze “the single most effective tool to minimize the risk of identity theft.” In many scams targeting older adults, abusers con unsuspecting older adults into giving away personal information that they can use to steal the older adults’ identities.

A freeze allows a consumer to stop agencies from releasing their credit report, which is an essential step when a scammer applies for credit with a stolen identity. As a result, when a credit report is frozen, it will thwart an identity thief’s attempt to obtain credit in another person’s name. The legislation limits credit report freezes to parties seeking a report for credit purposes and does not apply to parties seeking a consumer’s information for employment, tenant screening, or insurance purposes.

The legislation also extends the amount of time an initial fraud alert will stay on a consumer’s credit report from 90 days to one year, further strengthening consumer protections.

What Does Financial Elder Abuse Look Like?

In order to stop financial elder abuse, it is important to be able to recognize the warning signs that it is occurring. This is true both for older adults and their loved ones, as in many cases, loved ones are the first line of defense. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), trusted people in an older adult’s life, such as family members, attorneys, neighbors, caretakers, religious leaders, financial advisors, or healthcare providers are common perpetrators of financial elder abuse. This type of abuse can take a variety of forms, including the following:

  • Unauthorized use of credit cards
  • Unauthorized withdrawals from bank accounts
  • “Borrowing” assets without permission
  • Forging checks
  • Making changes to an elder’s trust or will
  • Identity theft

If you suspect that these or any other forms of financial elder abuse are happening to you or someone you care about, you should take steps to prevent further abuse, notify the police, and contact an attorney as soon as you can.

Call Goldfarb Abrandt & Salzman LLP Today to Speak to an Attorney

If you have been the victim of financial elder abuse in any form, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. The lawyers of Goldfarb Abrandt Salzman & Kutzin, LLP have been representing the rights of the elderly and disabled for more than 25 years and have offices conveniently located in the Empire State Building and White Plains, New York. In addition to representing the victims of financial elder abuse, our lawyers are qualified to provide representation and counsel related to health care coverage, estate planning, social security, adult guardianship, special education law, and special needs planning.

To schedule a consultation with a New York elder care attorney, call our office today at (212) 387-8400 or contact us online.