Senior Citizen Identity Theft

Seniors are often targeted by identity thieves. As with any crime, criminals look for opportunity and access and seniors tend to have more assets and readily available cash than others.

Angry Senior CitizenA great number of organizations and agencies have access to the personal information of vulnerable seniors. Seniors may have home health care workers, nurses, visit physician offices, live in assisted facilities, or have other service providers that may possess the senior’s personal information.

Often identity theft of seniors is not reported because victims may feel shame, embarrassment of how their information was taken, confusion due to diminished capacity and many times the perpetrators of identity theft against seniors are committed by individuals close to the victim such as a caregiver or family member.

Steps to Protect a Senior’s Personal Information:

  1. Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
  2. If your Medicare card has your Social Security number listed on it, make a photocopy of your Medicare card and use a permanent marker to black out you’re the first five digits of your Social Security number on the photocopy of the card. Carry the photocopy of the card and keep your Medicare card in a secure place.
  3. Do not carry your checkbook. Only carry the number of checks you will need and keep your checkbook in a secure place.
  4. Keep all of your sensitive personal documents, including financial documents in a safe, secure, locked place.
  5. Shred personal and financial records with a crosscut shredder before throwing them away.
  6. Be mindful while using the internet. Install a virus-protection on your computer.  Only visit trusted websites and do not respond to unsolicited requests for information.
  7. Register for the National Do Not Call List to prevent telemarketers from calling your home with unsolicited offers. Visit www.donotcall.gov to register or call 1-888-382-1222.
  8. To stop unsolicited credit or insurance offers, contact 1-888-567-8688 or visit : www.optoutprescreen.com.
  9. A Senior’s Power of Attorney or Court Appointed-Guardian is able to exercise rights on behalf of the Senior in order to clean up damage cause by identity theft.
  10. Monitor and review your credit report annually. If you believe you have been a victim consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit report.
  11. Contact the three credit bureaus for more information.
         

    EQUIFAX

    Experian

    TransUnion

    P.O. Box 740241
    Atlanta, GA 30374
    1-800-525-6285
    www.equifax.com
    P.O. Box 9554
    Allen, TX 75013
    1-888-397-3742
    www.experian.com
    P.O. Box 6790
    Fullerton, CA 92834
    1-800-680-7289
    www.transunion.com
         
  12. If you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft, file a police report with your local authorities. Visit other helpful resources on this site for steps to take,  My Financial Information Has Been Stolen or My Information Has Been Used to Open New Accounts.
  13. Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft.  may also contact the FTC at 1-877-IDTHEFT(-877-438-4338); TTY -866-653-4261.
  14. If you suspect someone has used your Social Security number, contact the Social Security Admininstration at 1-800-772-1213, or visit SSA online at www.ssa.gov/oig/hotline/ssnmisuse.htm.
  15. Contact the U.S. Administration on Aging www.aoa.gov to find local programs that may be able to provide local resources including information on elder abuse.
  16. Learn how to budget, avoid scams, and apply for benefits to stay secure and independent longer. Check out the National Council on Aging’s toolkit.
  17. Are you a caregiver helping to manage an older person’s money? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Office for Older Americans created four, easy-to-understand booklets to help financial caregivers. The Managing Someone Else’s Money guides are for agents under powers of attorney, court-appointed guardians, trustees, and government benefit fiduciaries (Social Security representative payees and VA fiduciaries). The guides are available to download on the CFPB website at www.consumerfinance.gov/managing-someone-elses-money. You can also order free print copies at http://publications.usa.gov/USAPubs.php?NavCode=K&searchText=CFPB and free bulk orders athttp://promotions.usa.gov/cfpbpubs.html.  The guides help people acting as fiduciaries in three ways:
    • They walk them through their duties
    • They tell them how to watch out for scams and financial exploitation, and what to do if their loved one is a victim.
    • They tell them where to go for help.

Sources: www.credit.com, www.senior.com, Federal Trade Commission, www.donotcall.gov, Social Security Administration, U.S. Administration on Aging

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