FTC Turns to Public for Understanding & Preventing Senior Identity Theft ~ Comments Due 7/15/12

FTC Turns to Public for Understanding & Preventing Senior Identity Theft ~ Comments Due 7/15/12

This year the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is focused on how identity theft impacts elders and is soliciting information on this topic from the public. The FTC will use this information to inform its law enforcement agenda, policy initiatives and consumer education efforts.

Elders are particularly susceptible to identity theft, as they are often the target of phone and phishing scams. Some elders have granted powers of attorney giving wide access to their personal information; and most elders’ Medicare cards list their Social Security numbers. In addition, their personal information can be vulnerable in hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities.

During the current public comment period, the FTC is particularly looking for information on:

  1. The prevalence of identity theft targeting elders;
  2. The extent to which elders are vulnerable to identity theft;
  3. Types of identity theft schemes and the extent to which thieves use them to target elders, such as phishing schemes, power of attorney abuse, and tax, medicare, and nursing-home related identity theft;
  4. The extent to which elders are victims of familial identity theft;
  5. Precautions seniors can take to protect their identity when seeking accountants, financial advisors, nursing care, home care, and other medical services; and
  6. Public and private sector solutions to senior identity theft.

Comments can be submitted to the FTC through July 15, 2012. While people can submit information electronically or in paper form, the FTC recommends you send them electronically for ease of retreival. Here’s the link: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/senioridtheft. If you do send in paper comments by mail,  send or deliver them to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-112 (Annex L), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Make sure you allow enough time for the FTC to receive them by July 15th as U.S. postal mail in the Washington area is subject to delay due to heightened security measures. Also make sure not to include any personal information in your comments as these will be open for public viewing.

See this FTC announcement (PDF) with more information on this call for comments.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.