Identity Theft Leaves Elderly Veteran Homeless

An 87-year-old Navy veteran may lose his home after having his identity stolen.

Joe Grooms of Montana said that a man showed up at his door last week and informed him that his loan was being foreclosed because of a nonpayment. As a result, Grooms’ house was sold at auction and he is being forced to evacuate within 10 days.

Grooms was a victim of identity theft. He said that someone used his identity to take out a third mortgage on his home and obviously failed to make the necessary payments. Now, Grooms faces eviction.

Staff members from Senator Jon Tester’s office are reviewing documents provided by Grooms and a case worker is investigating the incident. Unfortunately, this does not mean that the case will necessarily have a happy ending for the elderly veteran, who may now have to live in his motor home.

Grooms commented, “I left home when I was 14. I made my own living until I went into the Navy when I was 18. When I came out of the Navy, I made my own living all my life. I’ve never lived off anybody else. And you can’t scare me.”

Sadly, incidents like this one happen every day. Approximately 15 million U.S. residents have their identities stolen each year, accumulating financial losses upwards of $50 billion.

Elderly individuals are particularly vulnerable. In fact, the number of victims aged 65 or older increased to 2.6 million in 2014. To combat this phenomenon, some states have signed bills to protect their senior citizens against fraud. For instance, Missouri now allows financial professionals to put holds on specific transactions.

A bill called the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act has been introduced to Congress twice but hasn’t gained much traction. The bill aims to establish an office within the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection that would monitor for scams targeting seniors.

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