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Four Steps to Monitoring Finances for a Loved One with Dementia

Written by Diane Moogalian on July 15, 2013 in Credit  |   6 comments

Many seniors have spent their lifetimes building credit and saving money for their golden years. However, a single financial misstep could put their savings in jeopardy or leave them vulnerable to identity theft or other types of fraud. Identity thieves and fraudsters pose a serious…

credit, identity theftMany seniors have spent their lifetimes building credit and saving money for their golden years. However, a single financial misstep could put their savings in jeopardy or leave them vulnerable to identity theft or other types of fraud.

Identity thieves and fraudsters pose a serious threat to older Americans, especially those who suffer from dementia or live in long-term care, because their personal information is more readily available to third parties. Because of these risks, you may have to step in and offer support.

If a family member or close friend needs you to oversee his or her finances, consider taking these four steps to protect your loved one’s savings, credit and identity.

1. Get a signed Power of Attorney.

In order to legally access your loved one’s finances, and to ensure that he or she is not being financially compromised, you will need a Power of Attorney (POA).

Through a POA, which is a signed legal document, your loved one can authorize you to act on his or her behalf in order to make financial, medical, or other legal decisions while he or she is still alive. Equifax can accept a POA only if the document is notarized and contains language that you are authorized to handle the financial affairs, credit, and so on for that consumer.

2. Regularly monitor your loved one’s credit report.

You should regularly pull your loved one’s credit report to make sure it contains both current and accurate information.

To gain access to your loved one’s credit report, you will need to submit your lawfully executed and valid POA. To order the credit report, you will also need your loved one’s personally identifiable information, like full name, date of birth, Social Security number, and current address. You can access one free credit report every year from each of the three national credit reporting agencies through annualcreditreport.com.

Check to make sure your loved one’s personal information is accurate and that there are no issues or discrepancies on his or her credit accounts. Inaccuracies could occur if a credit company has not correctly reported payments—or they could be signs of identity theft.

You might also consider a subscription-based credit monitoring product if you need frequent access to your loved one’s credit report. With a credit monitoring product, you can regularly track your loved one’s credit and help protect his or her identity by monitoring at least one national credit report—and sometimes all three.

If your loved one is no longer credit active, the alerts you receive through a credit monitoring product might be a valuable resource, as you will be alerted any time a key change is made on his or her credit file. Though you are signing your loved one up for the credit monitoring product, you can have the alerts sent to your own email address or mobile device.

3. Keep track of your loved one’s credit card charges and bank account activity.

Because senior citizens are common targets for identity thieves and fraudsters, it’s important that you also stay up to date with your loved one’s finances, including credit card transactions and bank account activity.

Common scams that prey upon the elderly include Medicare fraud, where fake companies offer medical equipment or products in exchange for Medicare information; tax fraud, where thieves use personal information in order to steal tax returns; and phone scams, where fraudsters offer free giveaways or products to get a hold of personal and financial information.

With a credit monitoring product, you have the ability to set up financial alerts for specific credit card and bank accounts to more easily monitor activity. These alerts are timely, and you should receive them as soon as transactions go through, such as anytime a check is written from your loved one’s checking account or a charge is made on his or her credit card.

4. Help protect against identity theft.

Identity theft is one of the most prevalent types of fraud that affects seniors, so keep an eye out for identity theft red flags, like unauthorized transactions on bank statements or unfamiliar accounts on the credit report.

If you think your loved one may be a victim of identity theft, consider placing a fraud alert and security freeze on his or her credit file.

Watching a loved one deal with the memory loss, impaired mobility, and confusion associated with dementia is difficult. By taking these important steps, you can help secure the financial future of your family member or friend.

Diane Moogalian is vice president of operations for Equifax Personal Solutions with responsibility for operational strategy and execution in support of customer care and fulfillment of credit and identity-related products for consumers. Prior to joining Equifax in 2007, Diane held several strategic roles with leading financial services companies. Diane graduated from the University of Richmond with a bachelor of science degree in business administration (marketing and economics) and earned a certificate in international business from Virginia Commonwealth University.

The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.


  1. Linda Herner says:

    The PROBLEM is that, once your parent with dementia has decided you are evil, revoked your POA, and moved on, you are no longer allowed to REMOVE the freeze!!! I put a freeze on my mother’s credit reports when various people kept trying to get money from her, and open new credit accounts with her “consent.” I was her POA, and it was easy to do. Now, when she has another POA, and they are trying to get a mortgage loan, Equifax refuses to allow me to remove it. The new POA and their bank says I have to be the one to do it, but Equifax disagrees. Also, they say I have to send all her documents, etc. but just won’t understand that I no longer have access to those items (and, she won’t even speak to me now, as is typical with dementia). Also, I was NEVER given a PIN when I froze this account, and I would know, because I have careful documentation and kept every related piece of paper sent to me. Experian gave me one, which I easily used (without a POA!) to remove the freeze, but Equifax did not. This has become a very bad situation, and might keep her from getting her new home, but Equifax just has people reading scripts to me about what I can and can’t do. I doubt anyone there cares at all, and I have spent hours trying to get an answer that will work.

    • EFX Moderator, KB says:

      Linda, we would like to help address your matter. If you could please submit your matter/inquiry, along with your legal name, your city/state, and the email address you used for your Equifax registration to equifaxsupport@facebook.com. A Customer Support agent will respond to you directly.

  2. Lorraine says:

    EFX Moderator: could you give me some direction here in the same way you gave to Linda please?

    I have emailed power of attorney documents (Nov 24)to an email address that an Equifax representative gave to me for legal documents, as I am somebody’s POA and need to check on the status of her mail-in request for her yearly free credit reports, and I have spoken with NUMEROUS people, getting bounced back and forth between the dispute dept and the general dept, and NOBODY has been able to check that email address that I was given BY AN EQUIFAX Representative for the POA documents that I took the time to scan to them. I have been at my wit’s end and am considering filing a complaint with the BBB.

    Your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.

  3. Jonathan Charles says:

    Hi there,

    Monitoring financial account of our loved one suffering from dementia is so crucial to make their old age a golden one, first step of getting a signed power of attorney should be given high priority as it gives you the power to take the right decision for them on their behalf, Second step of regularly monitoring financial account of your loved one is somehow difficult, but once it’s done you will get the accurate data of financial condition, third step of keeping track of credit card charges and bank transaction will help in predicting the correct financial status of our loved ones, by following all above three steps you can protect against identity theft. Many people ignore these things and realize when they get in trouble, as we are moving forward the cases of dementia is also moving and at much rapid rate, Today about 44 million people live with memory loss disease like Alzheimer’s and Dementia, By seeing the current rate the current figure will increase up to 135 million by 2050. To have a more clear view one can visit http://bluebirdcare.ie/2013/12/12/dementia-cases-set-to-soar-in-the-us-by-2050/

  4. Kathleen says:

    Can a parent with dementia legally revoke POA?

  5. Martha says:

    We monitor via online, an elderly relative’s checking account. Lately there are some transactions that are a mystery. They show personal check numbers which are in the range of the book of checks to which he has access, but they include no electronic facsimilie or photocopy of the hardcopy check. We are not able to see to whom/what the check was written (the payee), his signature, or the two lines where the amount is written out. All are important in ascertaining that the checks were not stolen and forged. The amounts are not huge, and some appear to be recurring on a regular basis, as if they were payment for some service. But it’s disturbing that there is apparently a way that money can be removed from his checking account in such an opaque manner. Questions: Is there a way we can set up the monitoring to show the missing information on these transactions? If not, is there a way we can put a note or flag on his account to not allow any “electronic checks” to be drawn on it? He has set up several of his bills —cable TV, phone, etc.—for automatic bank draft, and we don’t want to mess that up. This is different—apparently he is writing an actual check to someone, but it’s not being processed in the usual manner. Asking him probably won’t help, as he may not recall to whom/what the check was for. Until he gives up his checks and changes his mailing address to route all his mail to us, we’ll continue to have this challenge. In the meantime….it’s a worry. Thank you for your advice.

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