Stealing Parents’ Identities

In the real world, I am an owner of a home care company called Support For Home.  In that role, at that agency, we see a whole lot of stuff.  Some of it is amazingly great.  We work with family caregivers and professional home care aides that perform miracles in caring for their loved ones and clients.

Sometimes we see abuse.  When we do, we report it to Adult Protective Services.  If it is the client abusing our employees, we fire the client.  We have never, however, seen what I just read about — adult children stealing the identities of their elderly parents.

The Red Tape Chronicles, on MSNBC, has a story on that topic that indicates this crime — and that is what it is — is actually fairly common.  ID Analytics “tried looking for people in their 70s and 80s who were sharing their SSN and family name with someone roughly 20 years younger. The result: More than 2 million elderly adults who are sharing an SSN with their adult children.”

My own naiveté irritates me almost as much as the crime itself.  The story talked with another expert on the topic:

Jaimee Napp, a consultant and expert on ID theft victim rights, said she wasn’t surprised by the findings.

“Elder parents are often vulnerable and often dependent on caretakers who sometimes are children,” Napp said. “Financial exploitation is a high yield, low risk crime. A crime can be easier for a child to commit against an older parent because of access to their information.”

Many adult children feel entitled to their parents’ money, she said, believing that it will come to them through inheritance anyway. They can also justify the crime when parents suffer from dementia or other mentally debilitating illnesses.

We are all familiar with financial elder abuse, unfortunately.  Schemers and scammers are too prevalent, by far.  But seeing that happening within the family is a special kind of repugnant behavior.  We will be working to to raise the level of awareness of our home care aides on this issue.

Best wishes.  Bert


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