Seniors: Victims of Identity Theft
Every year, criminals defraud the elderly of more than $36 billion through financial abuse and outright fraud, according to Sen. Susan Collins, who called financial fraud against the elderly “a growing epidemic.” The number of elderly identity theft victims increased from 2.1 million in 2012 to 2.6 million in 2014.
7 tips to help fight senior identity and financial fraud
Use direct deposit to keep your Social Security and other benefit checks in your bank account, and don’t click on email links or open attachments that appear to be from banks or credit card companies.
Why seniors may be more vulnerable
Experts say that baby boomers are prime targets for identity thieves because they may have weaker gut reactions to signs of untrustworthiness. Identity thieves can steal mail or impersonate government officials to gain access to seniors’ personal information.
Typical identity theft scams targeting the elderly
Identity thieves target seniors with scams that are similar to those used on other victims. Online con artists frequently “phish” for personal data via email, and they may ask seniors to verify their financial data (such as account numbers and Social Security numbers).
A Personal Story
“My parents were preyed upon,” says Kay Bransford, author of “MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life,” describing how older clients are “drip-by-drip” compromised.
Who’s on your side?
It’s not always easy to find a trusted confidante; the Eldercare Locator may be able to connect you to services in your area. Be on the lookout for identity thieves who contact you via email, phone, at your door, or over the Internet. Prepare what you’ll say or do if someone asks for your personal information.
Are older people more likely to be victims of identity theft?
Seniors are more vulnerable to identity theft scams than younger people because they are more trusting, have more savings and home equity, and are less likely to monitor their credit and financial accounts closely.
How do most people get their identity stolen?
Public Wi-Fi networks, discarded or stolen documents containing personal identifying information, and data breaches affecting merchants, government agencies, health care companies, and other large organizations are all common causes of identity theft.
Can only adults get their identity stolen?
Myth 6: Identity theft only affects adults. Identity thieves can use a stolen Social Security number to open new credit card accounts, get a loan, or apply for a job. It can take a long time for a child to realize they have been a victim of identity theft.
How can the elderly protect from identity theft?
Have checks direct-deposited into your bank account to reduce the risk of the check (and all of the valuable information on it) falling into the wrong hands.
Who is the most vulnerable to identity theft?
Identity theft is being reported at higher rates among consumers aged 40 to 69, indicating a growing awareness of the crimeu2014and vulnerability.
What age group is most at risk for identity theft?
30 to 39 year olds were the most targeted age group for identity theft in 2020, with 306,090 cases reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States; 40 to 49 year olds were the second most targeted age group, with 302,678 cases reported.
What is the most common form of identity theft?
The most common type of identity theft is financial identity theft.
What are the odds of having your identity stolen?
Consider these identity theft statistics: In 2019, 14.4 million people were victims of identity fraud, or about 1 in every 15 people, and 33 percent of adults in the United States have experienced identity theft, which is more than twice the global average.
Can someone steal your identity with just your name?
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personally identifiable information, such as your name, Social Security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, and address, and uses it for their own financial gain without your knowledge or permission.
How do I know if someone has stolen my identity?
How to Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
- Track what bills you owe and when they’re due
- If you don’t receive a bill, it’s possible that your billing address has changed.
- Review your bills.
- Check your bank account statement.
- Obtain and review your credit reports.
How can I find out if someone is using my identity?
To order a copy of your Social Security Administration earnings and benefits statement, or to check whether someone has used your Social Security number to get a job or avoid paying taxes, call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) or go to www.identitytheft.gov/.
How many people’s identities are stolen each year?
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), up to 9 million Americans’ identities are stolen each year; by learning more about this issue, you can learn crime prevention tips as well as what to do if you become a victim.
How does identity theft affect its victims?
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, 41% of identity theft victims have sleep problems, and 29% develop other physical symptoms such as aches and pains, heart palpitations, sweating, and stomach problems.
What is child ID theft?
Child identity theft occurs when someone obtains credit or employment using the personal information of a minor child, such as his or her name and Social Security number.