My older brother and only sibling is 71 and lives in his own apartment in a building for low-income seniors. He was never diagnosed but based on my work with children with autism he's definitely on the high-functioning end of the spectrum. He can live independently with no issues; he cooks, cleans, does laundry, walks to the local stores to shop and always takes his medications on time. However, he has a lot of comprehension issues. As his POA I have to manage all of his finances and other affairs. I also have to accompany him to his doctor appointments because he doesn't understand what the doctors tell him and doesn't know how to advocate for himself.

Our parents did all that for him when they were alive, so he never learned how to even do simple banking because it was always done for him. When they passed I had no choice but to take over.

My brother is also very gullible. I programmed my phone number into his caller ID and advised him repeatedly to direct all calls to me, and to never give out personal information over the phone.

Well, today he completely ignored my advice and did just that. He told me someone from Medicare called asking for information and he gave it to them. He gave them everything from his address to his date of birth to his SSN. It's been two hours since he told me and I'm still sick to my stomach.

I created a LifeLock account for him and contacted his bank. The only account he has is a checking account jointly held by both of us to which his Social Security payment is deposited. They set up push notifications to my phone about any suspicious transaction. Because he has no credit history there's no way to freeze any credit inquiries or applications.

What else can I do to head off potential identity theft?

"With no credit history of any kind, I don't know if it's even possible to freeze my brother's credit. But I'll contact the reporting agencies directly and see what I can do."

Discussion on this question indicates several things that may be done - they may have to create a credit report to freeze it, they may say (as it does in the article/response) that no credit is worse than frozen credit**, or you can do a Fraud Alert.

The latter only needs to be done at one credit bureau - they share that, but it is only good for 3 months (can be renewed, what a PAIN!) and I think you would have to file a police report.

I was concerned about whether YOU could do this, but I did find this:

"But what about people who can’t manage their finances on their own? The new law lets people with certain legal authority act on someone else’s behalf to freeze and unfreeze their credit file. The new law defines a “protected consumer” as an incapacitated person, someone with an appointed guardian or conservator, or a child under the age of 16.

If you’re acting on behalf of a protected consumer, you must give the credit reporting agencies proof of authority before you can freeze and unfreeze the protected consumer’s credit. Proof of authority includes:

*A court order (such as an order naming you guardian)
*A valid power of attorney

To obtain a credit freeze on the credit file of a child under 16, you must provide other proof of authority.
You’ll also need to provide proof of your identity, which can be your Social Security card, your birth certificate, or your driver’s license or other government issued identification."

So you have POA, you will likely have to process this all by mail, since they will need a copy of your POA and ID.

One other issue: Since you manage his finances, you should sign up as rep payee with SS. It is actually the LEGAL way to manage his SS funds. Most people don't know that, some poopoo the idea and reject it, but the SS web site itself tells you this! If you do this, and get approved, first payment is by check, then you can open a special rep payee account that ONLY you can access and should have ONLY the SS income and payments. He wouldn't have access to it, but if he needs money for shopping, use a refillable debit card, loading only with what he needs.

Combination of freezing credit and moving his SS funds to new account should take care of those issues.

** regarding no credit worse - basically what they are saying is a creditor might see nothing, and therefore can't determine risk and will deny credit. HOWEVER, there are really high interest risky cards or other nefarious places that won't give a hoot. If they open ANY credit card in his name and use it for a while carefully, they WILL build credit and then could increase their wicked ways! I would NOT accept this as a solution to this problem.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to disgustedtoo

If he has no assets or much money, that's not as big a concern but the scammers can take out loans using his info which may impact any Medicaid application he may need to make in the future. I think LifeLock was a good choice. If there's any way to block calls coming from unknown sources I'd work on that by talking to your phone service provider. Sounds like he doesn't have internet access, which would be more worrisome. You may need to intersect his mail as well. Have you considered a back-up guardian plan should something happen to you? Please know that you understandably care what happens to your brother, but you are not obligated to manage his care. As he ages and declines his needs will increase, and it's better to ponder this now than when there's a bigger crisis. I wish you all the best as you work to mitigate this breach.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Geaton777

I would notify any entity with whom he has contact, including the management and governmental entity involved with the low income housing unit, his medical team, employer if he has one, but also study Norton's LifeLock more to determine how broad their scope is and who and what sources they protect.   

My understanding is that these fake Medicare calls often focus on getting the information to order DME and sell it on the black market.    I assume you've notified Medicare as well?    They should be aware so that if/when claims are submitted from fake entities, they can check with you and/or the entity to verify that it's not really something anyone ordered for him.

It wouldn't hurt to also notify his medical team, if any, as one never knows how far these scammers extend their criminal activities.   Postal service might be notified as well; they could redirect the mail to one of their hideouts.

Another thought is any DME suppliers affiliated with his medical team.  

Others have addressed the credit bureaus (even if he doesn't have credit established anywhere);  I support those suggestions.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to GardenArtist
TSPiggy98 Sep 22, 2020
I contacted his attorney, who suggested reporting the incident to the police just to have a report in the event that we have to restore my brother's identity. I'll contact Medicare in the head was spinning and I couldn't think straight for a while after he told me about the call. Thanks for your help.
1) Freeze credit from all 3 agencies.
2) Buy identity theft protection.

I use Zander Insurance for my identity theft protection for my whole family. That company is highly recommended by Dave Ramsey, and it costs way less than Life Lock.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to polarbear
TSPiggy98 Sep 22, 2020
Thanks for your suggestions. I'll look into Zander Insurance. My dilemma is how to freeze my brother's credit, as he has no credit history. He never had a credit card or took out any sort of loan.
See 1 more reply
Seems like you did what u can do. If you have Lifelock they will be able to stop credit cards being issued to someone else right? Do they notify the major credit cards to make them aware that someone may want to open a card in his name? If so, not sure what more you can do.

I would suggest that if brothers phone is a cell set is up that only contacts ring thru. The others will go to his VM and be deleted. Or set it up with child restrictions. Only allowing him to call certain people and other numbers don't come thru.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to JoAnn29
TSPiggy98 Sep 22, 2020
Thanks for your help. My brother has a cordless phone connected to a cellular modem that's on our cell phone account, so I guess technically it can be considered a cell phone. I've been looking into restricting his phone so that he can only call 911 and me, and only receive calls from his visiting nurse practitioner and myself. We own a 2-family home and he's going to be moving into the upstairs apartment when the current tenant moves out November 1st. When he does I'm considering removing the phone entirely.
Contact all three credit companies and freeze his credit. Also notify them that what has happened. No one can get any kind of credit card or loan with frozen credit accounts. They'll mail you a password to unfreeze the accounts, so don't lose it.

Just leave it frozen until there's a good reason to need to get a credit card or a loan, which I assume will be never.

When my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I froze his credit and my mother's immediately. My mother has dementia, their house was paid off, so there was no need for anyone to access their credit. I never took the freeze off. After my dad died, I canceled all his credit cards and got a card in my own name to handle my mom's random expenses.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to MJ1929
TSPiggy98 Sep 22, 2020
With no credit history of any kind, I don't know if it's even possible to freeze my brother's credit. But I'll contact the reporting agencies directly and see what I can do.
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter