The Governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, signed legislation that creates a law that will authorize non-profit agencies and law enforcement to provide support services for identity theft for seniors to help protect them from having their personal information used fraudulently. This new legislation will permit law enforcement as well as the Office of the Aging to acknowledge identity theft as a type of elder abuse and to take steps to assist seniors.
The new law defines elder abuse and exploitation and adds this definition to elder law and includes identity theft as one of the support services available as a part of the Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC) programs. The new law also adds an amendment to the executive law, section 214-c, which will include identity theft as one of the types of elder abuse that will be addressed in the educational materials that police officers make use of when they detect this kind of abuse.
Identity theft involves the theft of personal identification information, such as bank and credit card information, Social Security numbers, and driver’s license numbers. This kind of theft can cause an older person to lose all of their money, leaving them without any retirement savings.
Anyone can be the victim of identity theft, but older people can be more vulnerable due to the need to give out their personal information to a number of government agencies, caregivers, and medical providers. Also, anyone can be an identity thief, including relatives, friends, or caregivers, which can make the theft harder for an elderly person to identify until it may be too late. Further making detection of the crime more difficult, elderly people are less likely to thoroughly review their bank statements or check their credit regularly. This also makes them less likely to notice quickly if they have been a victim of identity theft. They also tend to be more trusting, which can sometimes make them easier to deceive.
Additionally, it can frequently be more difficult for older people to recover from identity theft as well since many older people are unable to work to replenish their savings. But this new law will allow law enforcement and aging support services to help protect seniors from identity theft.
Older people are a fast-growing segment of New York’s population, and this new law should help protect these older citizens from increasingly aggressive identity thieves. This new law is intended to provide more state resources to help fight identity theft against seniors.