Identity theft plagues seniors. Older people are far more likely to be a victim of scams in comparison to younger people. The reasons seniors are far more vulnerable are many. Prioritize protecting your older loved ones from the increasingly predominant practice of senior identity theft.
Why Are Seniors a Primary Target?
Seniors are susceptible to fraud. The elderly have a lesser need to check their credit reports simply because applying for a loan to buy a new home or car is no longer relevant. Thieves prey on seniors whose credit reports go unmonitored.
Medicare and Medicaid benefits, which many seniors receive, open the door to medical identity fraud.
Elderly individuals are far less likely to start a discussion with family about possible identity theft issues. Seniors who take pride in living independently make incredible efforts to avoid giving the impression that they are unfit to handle their financial affairs.
Furthermore, seniors are the least likely to stay current on the latest fraud attempts, like phishing and IRS scams. Older people who live alone may have no one to help them dodge the ever-growing variations of identity theft scams.
How Do Con Artists Scam Seniors?
Con artists employ multiple methods to defraud vulnerable older individuals. The daily mail, especially if the bank statements, tax information and checks are placed in an insecure mailbox, is a popular avenue for thieves.
Rummaging through the senior’s garbage, con men look for unshredded financial statements that serve as the perfect ammo to pursue identity theft.
Not only do scammers pilfer mail, they also send fraudulent letters. Appearing as official letterhead from the senior’s bank or charitable organizations, the letters demand the senior’s personal information.
Thieves also make double-dealing telephone calls to seniors, parading as officials from the IRS or the senior’s financial institution. Unquestioning older people believe the call is from a reliable source. Through sheer gullibility or fear, seniors divulge personal information in response to the caller’s demands or threats.
Online phishing scams target seniors through spam emails, requesting the individual to validate account details and social security numbers.
How Do You Protect an Aging Senior?
A lock box or post office box is far more secure than an insecure curbside mailbox. Sensitive mail is tucked securely inside, leaving potential thieves searching for another easy-access mailbox. Request that checks be delivered to the bank or lock box to ward off identity bandits.
Shred Important Documents
Gift your loved one a shredder rather than a sweater. Credit card solicitations, bank statements, financial documents and any mail with personal information should get a quick run through the shredder to dissuade prying eyes.
Protect Their Driver’s License
Guard your loved one’s driver’s license. Anyone who makes a copy of the senior’s driver’s license has immediate access to the individual’s home address and birthdate. Con artists subsequently have an easy route to bank account and personal data.
Never Reveal Personal Information Over the Phone
When identity thieves call, pretending to be officials from a medical office and demanding payment for unpaid bills, your loved one should hang up. The senior’s next step should be to contact the medical office directly to manage any outstanding bills. Seniors should never automatically reveal their social security number, credit card, or bank account information over the phone. Family members should inform the seniors in their lives of the prevalence of dubious telephone scams and instruct them that hanging up is better than giving up their valuable data.
Similarly, online scammers take cover under the guise of reputable companies, forging seemingly legitimate links in emails. In reality, the links in questionable emails lead to equally deceptive websites operated by a ring of identity thieves. Instruct the senior in your life to never click on links in emails, especially in unexpected messages. Rather, seniors should directly call the company’s representative to take care of business.
Routinely Check Credit Reports
Put a stop to fraud by helping elderly individuals check their credit report often. Seniors should visit any of the three major credit reporting agencies at least once annually to check for unusual activity. Checking credit reports is free, but the resulting peace of mind is priceless.
Enroll your loved one in a credit monitoring service. Alerts are sent when suspicious activity is detected. Identity theft protections have an upfront cost, but they can protect the senior from the clutches of criminals.
Make a copy of the senior’s Medicaid, Medicare or health insurance card. The senior should keep the originals safely at home and only carry copies of the cards, blocking out the last four digits of the senior’s social security number on the copy. This practice prevents problems if the senior’s wallet is stolen.
Check In with Your Loved One Frequently
The best way to achieve all of the above protection tips is to check in with your loved one frequently. Ask the senior in your life if he or she received any unusual calls or letters requesting personal information. Open the door to these tough questions and let the senior know that scammers are extremely convincing. Your loved one may not even recognize a scam when con artists present it with the legitimacy of the real deal.
Involved the Caregiver
If your loved one experiences cognitive decline or dementia, the senior may begin to make dicey financial choices. Ward off scammers who prey on the ill and vulnerable by hiring a trustworthy caregiver. A well-vetted caregiver can provide a certain level of protection from potential identity thieves.
Families will find compassionate in-home caregivers from reputed senior care agencies, like Assisting Hands Home Care. Each caregiver is thoroughly screened and undergoes a background check. Our team features exceptionally trained and experienced caregivers.
Assisting Hands Home Care
Assisting Hands Home Care offers comprehensive, non-medical elder care. Services include, but are not limited to, Alzheimer’s care, respite care, 24-hour care and live-in care. Dependable caregivers arrive at the senior’s home to provide assistance with transportation, bathing, grooming, meal planning and companionship.
The elderly population in Fort Myers, Florida, relies on the expertise of the senior caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care. Giving seniors as much independence as possible, our home care agency services help make the aging process a dignified one.