Identity theft is a serious issue. Having your financial or medical information stolen and exploited can be—at best—a messy inconvenience; at worst, it can destroy pieces of a life. And while this problem affects all demographics, seniors may be especially at risk. We’ll discuss some of the most important identity theft protection tips for seniors that will help keep you or your loved ones safe.
Identity Theft Protection Tips for Seniors
First, we’ll answer an important question: Why are seniors more at-risk for identity theft?
- With their big purchases—a home, new cars—usually out of the way, seniors have less incentive to monitor their credit as actively as younger generations might. This gives fraud criminals more of an incentive to target them for theft. That said . . .
- Most seniors have these big purchases paid off and are in less debt than younger crowds. Again, this is more appealing to identity theft criminals.
- Many retired folks have plenty of savings built up that fraud criminals could exploit.
Now, here’s how you can protect yourself:
1. Don’t carry more than you need.
Leave extra credit cards, Medicare cards, social security cards, and any financial statements at home (better yet, in a secured place at home) unless you’re going somewhere that you need them.
2. Know the common scams.
Each year, the IRS creates a “Dirty Dozen” list of current identity theft scams. You can read the list yourself, but here are two of the main culprits:
- Phone scams. People may call you impersonating an IRS employee, saying you’ve won a free offer or a travel package, or offering you a “low-risk investment”. Some of these offers may sound tempting, but they are too good to be true. If you receive one of these phone calls, hang up and do not accept the offer, or sign up to be put on the National Do Not Call Registry. Keep in mind that the IRS will never ask you for information via phone.
- Phishing. If you use a computer or email, this is a new and popular way for criminals to get their hands on your information, usually citing the tempting offers listed above. Again, do not accept the offer or reply to these emails, and remember that the IRS will never contact you via email for information.
3. Shred old documents.
Unless you need it, shred any paper that contains sensitive information like your social security number or PINs—bank statements, credit card statements, and canceled checks, for instance. Similarly, cut up expired credit cards and driver’s licenses.
4. Watch your credit.
The above tips will certainly help you arm yourself against identity fraud, but you still need to be vigilant. You (or a caretaker or loved one) should regularly check your credit score and activity online, by phone, or in-person through your financial institution. If a business ever asks you for your social security number, ask why they need it and how they will protect it.
Looking for an assisted living facility in Collierville? If so, we urge you to consider joining an assisted living facility like Hearthside Senior Living Place of Collierville. You will love our spacious apartments and convenient services and amenities, such as exercise classes, a beautiful dining room, and group activities. If you’re interested in learning more about the facility or scheduling a tour, please give us a call at 901-651-2503 or click here. We look forward to hearing from you!