Identity Theft Epidemic
June 12, 2018
Identity theft has become a nationwide epidemic. According to AARP, 15 million people were victimized by identity theft in 2016, alone.
I’m reluctantly becoming an expert in identity theft. In my previous corporate careers, I was responsible for the safekeeping of other’s personal information, especially social security numbers. I was always meticulous and shredded any documentation containing personal information. Personally, I created my own ‘organize and shred’ process to coincide with filing my taxes. Imagine my surprise this year when I discovered I am a victim of identity theft again. Just once, I wish I would be surprised by a $1 million winning lottery ticket, or a 40% return on my investment portfolio, or an exemption for never having to file future tax returns. But ‘No’ --- my surprise, for the third time, was discovering someone stole my social security number. This wasn’t something I easily uncovered, but after you’ve been a victim of identity theft twice before, you realize how important it is to review all your important paperwork. For me, tax season is the most effective time.
At one of my recent speaking engagements, a participant mentioned the topic of identity theft. I shared with this group of older adults that one of the first things to do is file a police report. There are only a few organizations such as your employer, your banks and lenders, and the IRS that have a legal right to your social security number, so caution is advised when others ask for it. Along with filing a police report, it is recommended you notify the three credit reporting bureaus and place a security freeze on your credit file.
As for me, I’ve filed my taxes and professionally shredded my obsolete documents. Thus, I’m diligently working to get my name off the lease for that Chicago apartment I didn’t know I rented.
Is the location of your personal information documented and available should you or a loved one need to contact the credit bureaus, file a police report or notify your bank in the event of identity theft? Could you easily find the contact information for your bank, accountants, advisors, or any other professionals that would need to be notified?
Taking ownership of our own funeral eulogy
June 5, 2018
I recently listened to a woman talking about the importance of taking ownership of our own funeral eulogy. She shared a story of attending her neighbor’s funeral and listening to the eulogy which included what a great knitter her neighbor was. Because her neighbor had accomplished so many other things and was a pillar in her community, the woman listening felt knitting was possibly the last thing her neighbor would have wanted remembered about her life and legacy.
This story resonated deeply with me. I still recall my disappointment in my 32-year-old nephew’s funeral eulogy and its lack of mentioning any of his kind and charitable acts. Living next to his elderly grandparents, he would take every opportunity to visit and help his grandfather who was unhealthy and tethered to an oxygen machine. He did this to relieve his grandmother from her continuous caregiver duties and would be there to help her when she returned home. He was one of the first to arrive at his aunt’s house and a friend’s farm on separate occasions when tornadoes ripped through their small towns. He installed kitchen cabinets for an elderly couple when they needed help never expecting anything in return. And yet, none of these generous characteristics was mentioned as part his funeral eulogy. Just prior to the closing of his casket, I apologized to him for not speaking up and sharing his stories. It would be years later before I could honor his legacy by dedicating my book, Lifetime Legacy Planner, to him and embark on a new career of speaking engagements to share with others as to why Legacy Planning is so important.
Have you documented your wishes to preserve your legacy? Do your family and friends know how you want to be honored and remembered? Do they know what your preferences are for your funeral eulogy, obituary, services or any other final requests? Will they be able to handle all the arrangements and think clearly during their time of grief and loss?