Are You Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Identity Thieves?
While anyone can be a victim of identity theft, seniors may be at even more of a risk then the general population. According to the Department of Justice, the number of elderly victims of identity theft increased from 2.1 million in 2012 to 2.6 million in 2014. This increase is likely due to the fact that seniors often live alone and crave companionship, and also have fading memories, which makes them easy prey for identity thieves who take advantage of the elders’ loneliness and vulnerability.
Identity theft for seniors can be truly tragic as bank accounts are drained and retirement funds vanish, leaving people without any resources in their golden years. Protecting yourself and your aging parents and loved ones can be simple if you know where to start. Here are five ways to nest eggs safe.
- Use a shredder – A small cross-cut shredder can really go a long way to protect you and yours. With thieves dumpster diving for personal information, shredders can be used to destroy unneeded personal documents, receipts, pre-approved credit offers, unused or old checks and any other items that include personal information.
- Protect your mail – Leaving outgoing mail in the mailbox for the postman is never a good idea. Thieves can quite easily snatch mail waiting to be picked up, including letters that include checks or other personal information – and since you or your loved one is expecting the mail to disappear, none of you will ever be the wiser. Take youroutgoing letters to the post office, and purchase a mailbox with a lock for added protection.
- Monitor your aging parents’ accounts – Your parents are likely not as computer savvy as you are. Help them to monitor accounts as well as their credit information online. You can even set up credit monitoring and bank alerts to make this a seamless process for you both. Products such as Experian CreditWorks are a great option for people looking for comprehensive credit monitoring.
- Educate yourself and your loved ones about identity thieves – Never give out personally identifiable information like a social security number or bank account number over the phone. A legitimate business would never ask for this type of information.
Sandra Bernardo is the Consumer Education Manager at Experian. To learn more about identity theft and how identity protection services can help you and your loved ones, visit www.Experian.com