Protecting Seniors from Identity Theft
Identity theft is something that people of all ages should be wary of, but seniors can be especially vulnerable. Thieves often target older adults because they have higher amounts of retirement savings, are not as savvy when it comes to technology, and tend to be more trusting of others. This can make it easier to obtain personal or financial information.
While there is no way to guarantee that identity theft won’t happen, there are ways that seniors can reduce their risk. Family members should talk to loved ones about being proactive and discussing situations that seem suspicious. Regular communication and check-ins can help protect their safety. Take steps to make sure your aging parent knows how to handle various situations:
Hang up: Older adults may think it is rude to hang up on a caller, but if someone is asking for personal information such as their social security number, credit card number, or bank account information, there is nothing wrong with ending the call immediately. A lot of scams are done via phone, so talk to your senior about different tactics scammers use such as posing as a grandchild needing money, a charity looking for donations, or a credit card company wanting to verify their account or give them a special offer.
Limit personal information: If your loved one uses social media, remind them to limit the amount of personal information they share. Telling others their maiden name, exact birthday, where they grew up, or their phone number can make them more vulnerable to identity theft. Put security features in place that limit the amount of information others can access.
Don’t click links: When it comes to email, links and attachments are one method that scammers use to get information. Show your aging parent how to look at the actual email address – not just what it shows as the sender’s name – to see if it something they recognize. Remind them never to click on links from strangers, download attachments, or reply back with personal or financial information. They can always look on a company’s verified website for a phone number to call if they receive questionable emails.
Shred sensitive documents: When in doubt, shred any documents that contain personal or financial information. This could be anything from credit card offers to bank statements to old medical forms that are no longer needed. It doesn’t take long to zip something through the shredder and have peace of mind that the information is less accessible.
Seniors should also regularly review bank and credit card statements to look for any questionable charges. Families can check in to see if their aging parent appears to have made donations or payments to unfamiliar organizations, or if money appears to be missing. There are also online services they can sign up for that monitor activity and can send alerts when suspicious charges appear or if new accounts have been opened in their name.
Maintain open communication with your senior so they feel comfortable discussing these types of situations and asking for advice before they potentially give out information. An in-home caregiver in Potomac MD can help your loved one to manage their mail and weed out scams, and to use caution when answering the telephone or door. Caregivers can also accompany seniors on outings and help them keep track of their personal belongings so they’re not stolen. To learn more about in-home caregiving and how it can provide valuable support to your senior, call Always Best Care today.