Identity theft is a great concern in today’s world and, sadly, senior citizens are often the targets. Seniors are perceived to be vulnerable by scam artists and identity thieves and, therefore, ideal victims.
There are several reasons for this. First, identity thieves believe that seniors tend to be more trusting than younger potential victims and would be more likely to share personal information. They also, oftentimes, assume that seniors are less aware of the identity-theft threat than younger men and women and, therefore, have little or no reason to question a solicitor who is calling and requesting such information.
Also, senior citizens are less likely to frequently monitor their credit or request their scores. Therefore, they would, in many cases, be unaware of a problem until it is more advanced.
True or not, identity thieves believe there is enough validity to these points that they have decided to prey on those of a certain age. Don’t think for a minute that senior citizens are the only victims to this type of deceit and crime – they are absolutely not – but they should be aware that they are very much in the crosshairs of identity thieves.
Whether you’re a senior living on your own or in a community, there are bad people out there who are looking to do bad things to good people like you!
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that you won’t become a victim of identity theft, but here are a few simple tips that seniors can take to help protect themselves:
Phone scams. If an individual or organization calls and requests personal information such as your social security number, account number, credit card number, etc., do not provide it. Simply explain that you cannot share that information and hang up. Before doing so, write down the phone number (assuming you have Caller ID) and keep it in case it’s needed for future use.
If you reside in a senior living community, report any suspicious calls to a staff member.
There are countless phone scams aimed at seniors. In fact, many have been reported in West Palm Beach and throughout South Florida in recent months and years. Don’t become a victim!
Know your credit score. Most seniors don’t bother checking their credit scores too often because they aren’t looking to borrow large sums of money for items such as a new house or car at that age. However, by not monitoring their credit, they are unaware of any fraudulent activity that may be taking place.
There are several credit monitoring services available, as well as credit reporting agencies which will provide one free update per year.
Shred it! Paper shredders are fairly inexpensive. It is a good idea to destroy and documentation you receive from banks, credit card companies, etc. – any organization that might be sending you paperwork with sensitive information on it. Simply throwing this information in the garbage makes it easily available to scammers and thieves. So, once you’re through with it…shred it!
Again, identity theft is not restricted solely to seniors, but it is important to realize that if you are in that demographic, you are deemed “an easy target” by many. Arm yourself with knowledge and prepare to defend yourself.
© Lourdes-Noreen McKeen | 315 South Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach, FL33401 | 561.655.8544