Although everyone is a potential identity theft victim, senior citizens are particularly vulnerable. In fact, seniors lose approximately $3 billion every year in financial scams. Therefore, seniors and their loved ones must always remain vigilant for signs of identity theft. In this article, we discuss how to prevent senior identity theft.
What Makes Seniors Vulnerable to Identity Theft?
There are many reasons that criminals target senior citizens. For one, many seniors have substantial savings and investments, and many have begun to access their retirement funds. In addition, seniors are likely to require medical services and use government services, both of which are industries that identity thieves target. And perhaps most importantly, as people age, they often suffer from cognitive ailments, such as dementia, which can affect their ability to make sound decisions. Finally, many seniors are isolated, making them more likely to unknowingly communicate with criminals and provide them with sensitive information.
Common Types of Senior Identity Theft
As noted above, seniors are particularly vulnerable to identity theft. Common types of senior identity theft include:
- IRS scams
- Tech scams
- Medicare fraud
- Funeral scams
- Phone scams
- Estate identity theft
- Military identity theft
- Romance scams
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
Although no one is 100% safe from identity theft, there are several things seniors and their families can do to decrease the odds of becoming an identity theft victim, including:
- Create a list of contact information for family members, friends, health care providers, and anyone who may call on a regular basis. This can help seniors determine if a call is legitimate.
- Let calls from unknown numbers go to voicemail.
- Hang up if an unknown caller requests financial or personal information.
- Keep in mind that government agencies don’t usually contact people via phone or email. Therefore, all phone calls or emails that purport to be from government agencies should be viewed with suspicion.
- Routinely check credit card statements, financial records, and bank accounts for signs of suspicious activity.
- Keep all important documents, including Social Security and Medicare cards, in a safe place.
- If available, request direct deposit of funds instead of paper checks.
- Be suspicious of offers that sound too good to be true.
- Be suspicious of all communication that is of a threatening nature, such as threats of legal action if certain information isn’t provided.
- Ask for help from family members or close friends following any suspicious contact or other signs of possible fraud.
Contact a Consumer Class Action Lawyer
If you have had your identity stolen, you should immediately take legal action. Identity theft is routinely the result of negligence on the part of organizations that store your personal information. When an organization releases your personal information to an unauthorized party, regardless of whether this was done intentionally, you should receive financial compensation for your losses. Please contact consumer class action attorney Seth Lehrman today to schedule a free consultation.