Retired People – Prime Target for Identity Theft – Beware!

ElitePersonalFinance
Last Update: February 6, 2021 Fraud Identity Theft Scams

Serious Risks for Retirees is Often Overlooked!

Retirees have become the latest targets for identity thieves. Experian has recently conducted a survey that showed 11% of people over the age of 65 reported stolen financial information. According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft among seniors has almost tripled over the past few years.

Seniors are highly exposed to fraud, and the major reason is that Medicare, the primary form of health insurance among the elderly, uses Social Security Numbers to identify its beneficiaries. These SSNs are relatively easy to get hold of, especially with the assistance of unscrupulous caregivers and staff members in retirement homes, many of whom have access to personal information.

Another problem is that older people don’t often monitor their accounts correctly. That way, many strange transactions can remain undiscovered for quite some time. Scammers are also of the opinion that pensioners have more cash reserves than others and that many are not digitally savvy, so they will easily fall for an online scam.

The con-artists proceed to bombard retirees with online offers that look too good to ignore, and there are frequent requests that purport to come from the banks, update personal details, or run the risk of their accounts being frozen.

Unfortunately, many take the bait, and the scammers make a killing!

The Type of Risks Retirees Face

Elderly folk face many risks that need to be efficiently identified and managed properly. Longevity also plays a part, and those with investments and other cash resources, need efficient financial planning and sound financial management. Sometimes in the hype of taxes, inflation, and stock market returns, identity theft is often overlooked. This can lead to devastating financial disaster and damage your twilight years’ reputation.

It is sad to note that there is this growing trend for criminal identity theft in retirement homes – the place where the elderly should feel safe.

Here are some examples reported by the Fraud Resolution Agents, who have made it their business to assist and guide retiree victims through the resolution process.

  • Staff members with easy access to resident records enrich themselves by selling SSN and other personal information to criminals.
  • Medical information and life insurance details are very profitable too.
  • Their report included details of an older woman who was taken advantage of Care Home and lost $16,000, which wasn’t recovered.
  • Another story explains how a registered nurse in a nursing home stole more than $5,000 from a patient who trusted her. Then she used the amount to purchase both goods and services.
  • Fraudulent e-mails requesting details to upgrade bank and card records.
  • Con-artists who have obtained personal details often call seniors pretending to be long-lost relatives with a sob story. Then they ask desperately for money.

These are just some of the ways seniors are scammed. Sadly older folk are more vulnerable than they were in the past. This can traumatic them and negatively impact their health, finances, and well-being.

More often, victims have to undergo trauma counseling to regain both confidence and peace of mind.

How Can Old People Protect Theirself from Identity Theft?

These steps can help you protect yourself from fraud and identity theft.

  • Shred anything with personal data that you no longer need.
  • Don’t keep your social security card, PINs, or passwords in your wallet.
  • Do not respond to emails that seem to come from the bank or card companies. It is just a fraudulent way to get your personal details.
  • Ignore SMS or phone calls that advise you that you have unclaimed lotto or other winnings. If you have not bought a ticket, you cannot be the winner!
  • Keep copies of your credit cards in a safe place at home. You will have quick access to details if anything is stolen.
  • Keep a close eye on your bank statements. Immediately query any suspicious charges, or even more serious, withdrawals you have not authorized.
  • If you do not have any long-lost relatives that you don’t know about, don’t dish out any cash to someone who claims to be a relative, no matter how desperate they sound.

The most important thing to do to protect yourself is to stay vigilant and query anything and everything you are not sure about. If you lose you life’s saving, there is almost no chance that you will ever get it back.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Parents from Identity Theft?

You have to know what your parents are more vulnerable to outside influences, especially criminal scammers’ attempts. They may still be in their own homes and mostly self-reliant, or they could be in a retirement home, but no matter where they are. As the age grows, the risk of fraud increases.

Here are some useful tips you can share with them.

  • It is important to educate them about the real dangers of identity theft and some of the tricks the criminals employ, like fraudulent emails, phone calls, and SMS.
  • You should regularly monitor their bank and card statements to ensure that there isn’t anything strange there. This is something that they often skip. Adding them to your family credit monitoring plan or getting a free one for them will help.
  • Tell them to keep all things containing personal data in a safe place. This means documents, credit cards, statements, etc. Would you allow them to walk with their credit cards, PINs, bank statements, and a lot of money in their bag?
  • If your parents don’t plan to apply for a loan or a credit card, why don’t you post a fraud alert or completely freeze their credit file?
  • Most of all, let your elderly parents know that you are always on hand to help with any uncertainties which may arise.

According to the US Department of Justice, identity theft is now the number one crime in America, surpassing even the scourge of drug trafficking.

Criminal attacks on retirees are included in this number. It is critical that Care, Nursing, and Retirement Homes do more to ensure the safety of personal information of the residents in their establishments.

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