The Digital Age makes it easy to communicate, share information, and learn new things. However, it also makes us vulnerable to cyber threats and con artists.
In fact, in 2018 a poll determined that 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft.
One of the most vulnerable populations to this threat are senior citizens. Our senior citizens were born way before the creation of the computer, the internet, and certainly our smartphones. This makes them easy targets for scammers and in need of protection.
Identity protection tips for senior citizens can help keep your loved one’s identity safe. It can also provide you and your loved one with peace of mind. Even if your loved one is living at home or in an assisted living community, they need to be protected and informed.
Identity theft can be devastating and costly. Identity theft occurs when a scammer or con artist steals someone’s social security number, credit card information, and/or other forms of identification. It can also occur when someone attempts to use an existing account without permission.
To deter these crimes, we need to know how to protect the elderly population. Read on to discover 5 identity protection tips for senior citizens.
5 Identity Protection Tips for Senior Citizens
The amount stolen from victims of identity theft amounts to billions of dollars. Identity theft can make victims feel violated, vulnerable, and downright angry. In the Digital Age, these scammers have even more reach to complete these crimes.
There are many ways identity theft can occur. Some can occur in-person, over the telephone, or online. If identity theft is successful, the thief may open up new lines of credit or open up bank accounts in the victim’s name. They may also redirect mail to a different address or opt into new phone contracts and services.
To prevent these crimes, we need to know how to protect our senior citizens. Explore the following identity protection tips for senior citizens.
1. Protect Insurance Cards
Senior citizens insurance benefits can be used by a scammer to steal their social security number or rack up medical bills. This is especially true if your loved one is on Medicare. Advise your loved one to never give out their insurance information over the phone unless it is a trusted, well-known source.
2. Never Give Information Over the Phone
Phone scams are on the rise. Scammers may play to your elderly loved one’s emotions by calling them and saying a family member is in need of money. For example, they may say their grandchild is in jail and needs to be bailed out.
Explain to your loved one that no matter how convincing this is, to hang up. Tell them to never give their information over the phone to an unknown caller. Advise them to call the family member directly after hanging up to determine its validity.
Senior citizens should also use caution when answering calls from unknown numbers. Help your loved one to enter contact information for all their friends and relatives on their phones.
3. Shred Documents
Dumpster diving isn’t just for thrifty people looking to find antique treasures. Scammers also dumpster dive to find financial documents and other forms of identification. To prevent this crime, shred all documents with identifiable information.
This includes bank statements, insurance information, and medical bills.
4. Don’t Click Unknown Links
Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable when browsing online. Most senior citizens aren’t tech-savvy and therefore find it more difficult to identify online scams.
Advise your loved one to never click unknown links. Explain to them that these links may be viruses or tools used to steal their personal information. Some of these links may appear in emails, pop-ups, or on an online ad.
You should also explain to them that they need to exercise caution when opening emails from unknown senders. Even emails that seem legitimate need to be opened with caution unless your loved one trusts the source.
5. Never Wire Money
Email scams are on the rise and scammers are getting more and more aggressive. Some of these email scams will even steal someone’s email address and make it appear like they sent an email from their own account. This can be particularly alarming, so your loved one needs to seek help and guidance if this happens to them.
Some of these emails may claim that they have your loved one’s personal information. They may also claim that they installed ransomware on their computer and attempt to blackmail them for money. This is a scary situation even for the most tech-savvy among us.
Advise your loved one to never wire money online. Some of these emails may also request your loved one to pay in Bitcoin.
They should never provide any financial information. Tell them to delete the email and not respond to it. Encourage them to call you if they have any concerns or receive a suspicious email.
Identity Protection Tips for Senior Citizens
Knowing identity protection tips for senior citizens will help them feel more confident. We can also have more peace of mind knowing that our elderly loved ones are taking the necessary steps to prevent identity theft.
If your loved one is the victim of an identity theft crime, there are certain steps you can take to amend the situation. First, you should contact the fraud department of each of the three major credit bureaus.
Next, you should close any of the accounts that you believe have fraudulent activity. Lastly, you should file a police report locally or where the identity theft crime took place. An additional measure you can take is to freeze their credit report.
This will prevent any additional identity theft from taking place. It will also flag any new accounts that someone attempts to open. To do this you’ll need to contact each major credit bureau.
It’s imperative that you complete these steps as soon as you are aware of identity theft. Doing so can help you to successfully mitigate any losses.
Want to know that your elderly loved one is in good hands? Contact us today to schedule a tour of our senior citizen residences.