Seniors are targeted at higher rates than the rest of the population when it comes to identity theft. Ages ranging from 65 and older are losing $36 billion every year due to elder financial abuse, mostly through identity fraud.
How Does It Happen?
The most frequent kind of identify fraud is aimed at seniors opening and closing bank accounts and credit cards in the victim’s name, as well as taking out payday loans or car and home equity loans. It’s a massive problem that’s under-reported that causes seniors to lose on average $7,633 over a five year period.
Identity theft is hard to identify initially and then resolve once it is pinpointed. It usually takes people about three months to realize their identity has been stolen.
Different Types of Identity Fraud
There are all kinds of identity theft, ranging from tax ID schemes to Medicare theft and mortgage fraud. Driver’s license theft is one of the most common forms of identity theft, which recommends setting up an additional security alert on your credit report if your license has been stolen. Scammers can use driver’s licenses to obtain additional forms of identification. Also, licenses contain your date of birth and address, which are two valuable pieces of information required to open a credit card.
How to Avoid Identity Fraud
Seniors should always keep an eye on the balance of their checking and savings accounts. It is one of the most important aspects of protecting their financial assets. They may think they are safe because they don’t use online banking, but this is a false sense of security. It might sound counterproductive, but having access to your accounts online allows for managing them easier.
Setting up an account online makes it so someone else can’t fraudulently do so. An account take-over is when someone else gains access to your accounts and sets up the passwords and other information themselves, so you are unable to log into your own account.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Identity Theft
- Pay attention to your bills – look for bills for items you did not buy, which could indicate someone has gotten access to your credit card information.
- Look out for debt collection calls for accounts you did not open or a loan you never applied for.
- Create strong passwords by making them complex and not using personal information like your birthday or your pet’s name. Change your passwords frequently and do not use the same one twice.
- Review your bank and credit card statements to make sure everything is accurate.
- Review your credit report at least once a year.
- Freeze your credit report.
- Install anti-virus and firewall software on your computer.
- Shred any physical receipts and financial statements.
- Consider going paperless so you don’t receive sensitive financial documents in the mail. Collect your mail every day and place it on hold if you are traveling.
- Do not give out your personal information (online, in person, or over the phone) just because someone asks for it. Government agencies like the IRS and the Social Security Administration will almost never call you, and even if they do they never ask for money or sensitive information over the phone. If you get a call purporting to be from the government, hang up, find the office’s number on your own and call back to verify whether the call is legitimate.
- Do not use public Wi-Fi networks to check your email, social media or bank account, as they are often insufficiently secured.
- Do not leave any personal information in your car, even if it’s locked.
- Do not carry your Social Security card with you, only carry documents that list it when absolutely necessary, and never give it out unless you are certain of who you are talking to and why they need it.
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We understand the importance of home cooked meals and nutrition for seniors and this attitude is reflected in our dining experience. If you or a loved one live near Dallas, Texas and need assisted living, contact Entrust of DeSoto today to learn about our 24-hour care and find out how we can help.