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From Nursery to Nursing Home: Identity Theft Can Hit Anyone

august 28, 2019 | identity theft
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Ideally, a nursing home is a peaceful place for people to relax in their latter years. With around-the-clock care, nursing home residents can live quietly and spend time with new friends. Family can visit regularly, meaning a resident will never feel alone. The caretakers are friendly and attentive. Everything is situated to make the residents of a nursing home feel like they are still home.

But the sad reality is that not every nursing home is ideal. Nursing homes have been in the news for the past several years, and not for good reasons. Increasing reports of nursing home residents being physically or psychologically abused have made us think twice about moving our own family members into a nursing home - or going into one ourselves later in life. However, there is another aspect of nursing home abuse that you may not yet be aware of. 

Nursing home fraud is a real and rising crime that affects the residents. This type of fraud occurs when a nursing home employee or caretaker uses the resident’s identity to make purchases or receive services with the resident’s money. Why is this happening? Well, nursing homes are full of seniors who often have larger cash reserves than younger people, making them a perfect target for identity theft. Seniors do not typically pay close attention to their financial accounts and bank statements. Changes in their finances could easily slip past them for a long time before they were made aware.   Seniors face legitimate identity threats.

Seniors in nursing homes are especially vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. The personal information of nursing home residents is available to employees, which means easy access for an employee who wants to steal an identity. A nursing home resident’s family might not pay close attention to the senior’s financial accounts. This makes it possible for a criminal to use the senior’s identity without the family noticing for a long time.

Here are a few examples of the criminal fraud someone could commit using a nursing home resident’s identity:

  • Checks written for cash that belongs to the senior
  • Utility services purchased in the senior’s name, but conducted at a different address
  • Social Security checks diverted to the criminal’s account

Of course, not every instance of identity theft in a nursing home will be committed by a nursing home employee. External identity thieves will often target the establishment because they know the resident's information is more easily accessible. If a resident’s personal information is compromised, staff and caretakers who work inside the home are in the best position to find out about it and report the crime to authorities. However, nursing home employees are often understandably reluctant to make the crime known, since it would cast a bad light on their employer in the public eye.

If the senior does not have the proper protection, the criminal can quickly wipe out large amounts of cash without being caught. Besides exploiting the nursing home resident, this also makes financial independence impossible if the senior is already struggling to receive good daily care at the nursing home. If family members ever notice, they will struggle to help the senior because the damage will already be done. Once someone’s identity is compromised, it is extremely difficult for a family to restore what has been lost.

Let’s consider a fictional example. Larry and his adult children decided that the best option for him was to move into a nursing home. Larry has been happy in the home for almost a year now. One day, his adult daughter comes to him with a concern. After checking his bank account for him, she noticed that funds have been slowly trickling out for the past few months. Has Larry been purchasing anything, like utility services for his house? Larry says no. Now, he must go through the hassle of finding out where his money is going, who has been spending it, and what they can do about it. It sounds like a big headache, doesn’t it?

Luckily, Larry’s daughter had previously done her research and learned about an identity protection service called IDShield that specializes in helping victims of identity theft. As a result, Larry was already an IDShield Member. With his membership, the IDShield Licensed Private Investigators get to work, making the tough phone calls and ironing out the details so Larry doesn’t have to. They do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to restore Larry’s identity to its pre-theft status.

Are you worried about identity theft hitting your loved one who is in a nursing home? Tell them about IDShield! We can monitor financial accounts, allow access to credit reports and more, all so members can stay in the know about their identity’s safety. Find out more about IDShield plans today!

IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”). LegalShield provides access to identity theft protection and restoration services. For complete terms, coverage and conditions, please see an identity theft plan. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations.

Let IDShield Protect Your and Your Loved Ones from Identity Theft.