Protect myself from POA fraud?
May 3, 2017 7:54 AM   Subscribe

I have asked my US lawyer, but this goes beyond his expertise. I live and work in Japan. Because of FATCA, my sister in Wisconsin has Power of Attorney over my retirement assets in the US so my funds can be managed. We update the POA every few years. Through a series of unfortunate events, my most recent POA was lost on a business trip after I had signed, but before my sister signed. What should I do?

My personal details have been changed for this post. You don't need to tell me how stupid I am since I'm feeling that pretty acutely right now.

I had the document signed and notarized with the intention of mailing it to my sister to sign before my business trip in Southeast Asia. However, on my way to post office/airport, I was involved in a small traffic accident and could only manage to make my flight. I brought the document with me, included with my work papers. I wasn't worried, just planned to mail it on the way back. My work papers were held in a nice-ish leather binder/folder thing.

On Friday afternoon, I left country one for a weekend in country two. I had my work folder at that time. I was traveling by car, so the folder was in my main bag. I had the papers at the time I left the hotel, since I put my hotel bill in the binder and put the binder back in the bag.

Somewhere between country one and two, the whole leather binder disappeared. I discovered it when I went to get it ready for my flight home yesterday morning. It could either have dropped out in the hotel parking lot somehow in country 1, been lost in customs between 1 & 2 (they did a brief inspection of my bag), fell out somehow in the car (driver denies it) or was taken out of my hotel room (thrown away by accident?) in country 2. There are no other options.

The POA is very broad (needs to be to manage FATCA) and I'm a careful person so I'm currently panicking about the risk. I realize that the chances are it was lost, not stolen,and even if it was stolen the thieves were after the leather folder and the nice pen and not my papers. I realize for someone to use the document they would need to forge my sister's identity as well as somehow prove they lived in Wisconsin. The lawyer of record is listed on the form if anyone tried to do anything strange with it. So how much risk am I running? I have a call into my lawyer, who has not yet responded.

Some specific questions:

What should I do to protect myself if someone tries to use it? I will obviously revoke all previous POAs and assign a completely new one. But how does that help me with this existing semi-original floating around out there?

According to Google, POA documents aren't valid internationally, so this should only be usable in the US. But it isn't very clear. Can anyone confirm or deny?

Any advice at all? I feel really exposed and stressed right now and this is not something I ever even thought about as a risk until this happened.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (4 answers total)
 
The upswing in identity fraud is because it's gotten very easy for people to steal identities in certain ways for certain purposes (like the difference between hackers and script kiddies). Using someone's POA in a different country is so far afield of those known and exploitable ways that no one's going to bother to try.

To be safe, tell your account managers of your retirement assets and your attorney and anyone else who might be contacted by someone trying to take a runner at it, and maybe check what you can a little more often for a while, but odds are pretty long that anything will happen.
posted by Etrigan at 8:05 AM on May 3 [4 favorites]


i'd say submit a new notarized document to anyone with whom you hold assets that says "with this notice i revoke the authority granted through any power of attorney documents prior to -todaysdate-."
posted by noloveforned at 8:39 AM on May 3 [5 favorites]


duh, missed the line that said you'd do that.
posted by noloveforned at 8:39 AM on May 3


I will obviously revoke all previous POAs and assign a completely new one. But how does that help me with this existing semi-original floating around out there?

IANAL TINLA
This is both probably sufficient and the only thing you can really do. As mentioned above, pay a lawyer to write it up (it'll take them like 30 minutes, probably), and send notarized copies to everyone and anyone you're worried about seeing the outstanding POA document. You could set up credit monitoring too, I suppose. It helps because there is (presumably) a date on the one you're concerned about, and as mentioned above, every revocation document I've had drawn up uses language along the lines of "all such documents prior to $date."

Since it has your sister's name on it, unless you're on the Forbes 500 list I don't think anyone is going to find the document and go through a multi step, multi crime process to maybe be able to use it. I would be very surprised if anything came of this besides (understandable!) anxiety on your part.
posted by PMdixon at 4:53 AM on May 4


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