Senior citizens, people 65 or older, are a prime target for identity thieves. In fact, last year Experian reported that over 12% of seniors reported that they had financial records/information stolen from them.

How come seniors are such an easy target for becoming victims of identity theft?
-- Seniors typically are not checking their credit reports regularly. Nor are they monitoring all of their financial accounts. 
-- It is very common for retirement home workers and/or assistants to have total access to record and financial information. This makes it very easy for these types of workers to take advantage of the people they are caring for.
-- In general, seniors usually have larger cash reserves and home equity.
-- Seniors are not aware of the modern day scams that go on.

What is the result when a senior citizen falls victim to an identity thief?
Banks accounts will be drained. In addition, credit card debt will be racked up, loans will be opened and/or cell phones and other services will be activated.

How is one's identity stolen?
-- Internet scams - Emails that request info about credit card info, bank accounts, etc. This is called 'phishing'.
-- Dumpster diving - Personal paperwork is obtained by going through garbage.
-- Phone scams - A thief will call up their prey, acting like an insurance or credit card company or even a charity. They will request personal info for verifying account info.
-- Wallet theft - It is very common for seniors to carry their Medicare and Social Security cards with them.
-- Record theft - When personal records are stolen...including Social Security and medial records.
-- Personal theft - When someone close to the victim, like an employee, nurse, relative or friend has the ability to access and compromise accounts and/or steal from the residence.

How to prevent seniors from becoming a victim of identity theft:
There is no 100% method for preventing identity theft. You need to be careful at all times. Below are some useful tips that will help you avoid and detect identity theft.

-- Keep all sensitive docs locked up in safety deposit box at your bank or in a safe in your house.
-- Periodically go over your financial and credit records. It is important that you obtain copy of your credit report at least once/year.
-- Do not disclose any personal info during a phone call unless you are the initiator of the phone call.
-- If you are considering making a donation, make sure you research any potential charity.
-- Never carry your Social Security and/or Medicare card with you.
-- Destroy all paperwork, mail and other personal documents with a paper shredder before throwing them out.

What if I become a victim of identity theft? What should I do?
The crime must be reported to the police immediately. Also, contact your bank, credit card issuers, etc. and let them know that you are a victim of identity theft. Learn more about what steps to take if you become a victim of identity theft by clicking here.

Related Reading:
Children and Identity Theft

Great Ideas for Senior Citizens for Preventing Identity Theft
Seniors are Often Target of Identity Theft



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