There is little question that the elderly are most at risk for falling victim to identity theft. The Baby Boomer generation statistically has accumulated more wealth than their children, offering a rich target for those seeking to steal money, social security numbers, and entire identities. Unfortunately, today’s technology makes it easier than ever to trick the innocent. Sit down with your loved ones today and help them understand how they can protect their future and identity with these easy tips.
Learn to Hang Up the Phone
The easiest source for scammers to collect information is through the telephone. While many seniors grew up trusting that only an honest person would call you at home, right now the opposite is true in most circumstances. If you receive a call that says it is from your bank, utility, or doctor’s office, ask you to confirm your personal information, hang up and call them back using the customer service number you have on file. If it is the real deal, they won’t be offended. If they are scammers, they will do almost anything to stop you from hanging up, including using threats.
Never Give Out an Account Number
An identity thief does not need to get all your information at once. They likely have access to public information like date of birth, address, and full name. Once they verify a credit card, social security, or medical record number, it is much easier to create an identity and commit fraud. An authentic business must provide the account number, not ask you to read it to them. If they want you to read off your account information, hang up.
Stop Clicking on Links
One problem with the convenience of the internet is that it is so easy to use! Phishing scams will send out emails or post advertisements dressed up to look like it came from a trusted source. The fraudulent links in these emails will send you to an infected website that may install a virus on your machine and harvest your personal information. Avoid clicking links for banks, credit cards, utilities, and medical sources. Instead, type in their website and find the information directly.
Sharing Financial Information with a Trusted Support System
Scammers know that senior citizens often struggle with memory issues. They may call posing as a familiar charity and say they haven’t received a check yet. They might infer that a credit card or mortgage payment was not processed. An extra payment is sent to a fake address on a check with all the information needed to steal an identity. Teaming up with a loved one to review finances, bank, and credit card statements once a month can help to identify any potential scams and minimize their damage.
Are you struggling to provide all the support that your elderly parent needs? Rancho Family Aging Services can help you create a care plan. Give us a call for more information.