Criminals View Seniors As Very Appealing Targets
If you don’t shop online and never use your credit card, you don’t have to worry about identity theft, right? This is a common belief among many seniors but they couldn’t be more wrong.
Credit experts warn that the very reasons that make seniors feel at low risk for identity theft – a tendency to not use credit often, shunning technology, and often using cash – make identity thieves view seniors as a very appealing group.
Jennifer Leuer, the general manager at ProtectMyID.com says:
“Anyone with a Social Security number needs to be aware of the risk of identity theft. Seniors, however, should be especially vigilant about identity theft protection, because they are often a preferred target of identity thieves and scammers.”
While identity theft can happen to anyone at any age, seniors may be at greater risk for a number of reasons, including:
- Medicare Cards
- Less Tech Savvy
- Credit Report
- Seniors Have More To Steal
- Seniors Are More Exposed
- Scams Target Seniors
- Seniors Do Things The Old Way….
Many states display social security numbers on Medicare cards. Even if your card is never lost or stolen, enterprising thieves may be able to snatch the number by hacking into your health care provider’s records. In 2009 alone, hospitals suffered millions of records lost to data breaches.
Seniors may be less technologically savvy, and may be more likely to respond to scams because they haven’t researched them online.
Because seniors feel less at risk for identity theft, they don’t closely monitor their credit reports and financial accounts. Last week, identity thieves stole over 9.5 million from consumers by micro-charging accounts. (Read more) Amazingly, less than 5% of consumers detected the scam.
Seniors often have more to steal than people of other demographics. They tend to carry higher cash reserves and home equity than other age groups.
Seniors’ personally identifying information may be exposed to more people through extended caregiver networks, nursing homes, doctor’s offices and other service organizations.
Seniors are more likely to trust official-looking emails and open unsolicited communications and click on links that could lead to malware or phishing attacks. Common forms of senior identity theft include check fraud, credit card fraud, phone or e-mail solicitations, social networking schemes and Social Security fraud. Fortunately, there are many ways seniors can protect themselves, or adult children can help protect their aging parents, from identity theft.
Pick up checks at the bank to avoid having them stolen from your mailbox. Better yet, set up direct deposit with the Social Security Administration and any retirement accounts that you regularly draw on such as pensions or IRAs.
Consider An Identity Monitoring Service
Consider using an identity monitoring product that gives you identity theft protection, like ProtectMyID.com from Experian. The product monitors your credit report on a daily basis and alerts you to activity on your credit accounts. And, with one phone call to a specially-trained fraud resolution agent, you can report all your cards lost or stolen and they’ll contact the credit card companies for you. And if you do become a victim of identity theft, you’ll have a designated fraud resolution agent by your side through the whole process of resolving the situation.
You can read our detailed ProtectMyID review for more information.