The most frequent types of identity theft targeting seniors are related to medical care and tax returns. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers over the age of 60 accounted for 52,610 of the identity theft complaints filed with the FTC in 2012. That accounts for 19 percent of all identity theft complaints the agency received and an increase for this age group of 6% from 2010.
Seven Ways to Prevent Identity Theft against Senior Citizens
If you are the adult child of a senior, what can you do to try to prevent them from falling victim to identity theft? Here are a few tips:
- Remind them not to carry their Medicare, insurance card, or social security card in their purse or wallet. Keep it stored in a secure place at home unless it is needed that day. This applies to all important identifying documents as well.
- Invest in a home shredder and encourage them to use it. Don’t settle for tearing up bills and other identifying information and throwing it in the trash.
- Never give out personal information over the phone. Remind your senior loved one that Medicare will never call them to ask for their card number or their social security number. They already know that information. Communications from government agencies will be delivered by the postal service.
- Check their credit score or help them do so on a regular basis. Experts advise doing this several times a year. Each of the three large credit bureaus is required to provide consumers with one free copy of their credit report each year. Take advantage of that law and request one from each of them every year.
- If the senior you love isn’t technologically savvy, make sure their home computer has virus protection software. Check this every few months to be sure it is updated.
- With more and more older adults taking laptops and tablet devices with them as they travel, encourage them to beware of where they use Wi-Fi and what they do on it.
- Finally, be sure their mail is held at the post office or forwarded to you if they will be in the hospital or otherwise away from home for a while. Even a few days of accumulated mail in the box can attract the unwanted attention of identity thieves.
We hope these tips help you keep the senior you love from becoming a victim. Contact us to learn more about the services that we offer and how we can help you help your loved one.