Four Common Ways Identity Theft Can Happen To Older Adults
Older adults work hard all their lives to provide for themselves and their families while putting away money for retirement. Unfortunately, unexpected hardships can put their financial security at risk. One of the most common threats is identity theft. Our Tampa elder care attorney explains four common ways it happens and how to protect against it.
Identity Theft A Common Problem Among Older Adults
Identity theft happens when someone steals personal information about you to use for financial gain. This may involve draining bank accounts, diverting benefits, opening up fraudulent credit cards, and taking out personal loans or lines of credit. It is an increasingly common problem and, unfortunately, older adults are among those most at risk.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), roughly one out of every 109 adults over 65 has reported being a victim of identity theft, with losses totaling more than $2.5 billion. Common ways it occurs include:
- Phone scams: Callers may claim they are phoning on behalf of loved ones or represent banks or government agencies to initiate money transfers or obtain a bank account or Social Security numbers and other sensitive information. Usually, landlines are targeted the most since those numbers are commonly publicly available.
- Email scams: Similar to phone scams, fraudulent emails target older adults with tantalizing offers and heart-touching appeals designed to defraud them of cash.
- Online scams: Many older adults use the internet and social media to catch up on news or interact with family members. Unfortunately, they are not always aware of standard online precautions and frequently fall victim to phishing and other scams.
- Caregiver theft: Nursing home employees, visiting aides, or even relatives may attempt to steal information about bank accounts or their identification and other sensitive information.
How To Prevent Older Adult Identity Theft
Experian reports that older adults are a target of identity theft as they often have money in savings, are less knowledgeable as to common tactics, and may be too ashamed to report it. Unfortunately becoming a victim can not only jeopardize their financial security but can also take a heavy toll on their physical and mental health as well.
To prevent identity theft, older adults and their loved ones are encouraged to be aware of the risks and to take precautions. This includes:
- Routinely monitoring bank account and credit card statements for unauthorized deductions or purchases;
- Periodically checking credit reports, to ensure no new loans or credit accounts were opened;
- Never give out personal information via the telephone or in an email;
- Making sure computers have antivirus software installed and updating it regularly;
- Not interacting with or accepting friend requests from people they do not know on social media;
- Not clicking links or opening suspicious emails.
Reach Out To Our Tampa Elder Law Attorneys
At Strategic Counsel Law Group, L.C., we are dedicated to protecting the health, safety, and financial security of older adults. To find out more about identity theft and other important issues that could impact your quality of life, reach out and call or contact our Tampa elder law attorneys online today.