January 29, 2018
Identity theft has become a serious threat across the country. Major corporations have even fallen victim. Here’s what you need to know to keep a senior safe.
The New Year rings in the beginning of tax season, and adult children often help their senior parents with this process. Some families play a more hands-on role than others. One thing the entire family should be aware of is that seniors are being targeted more and more for identify theft during tax season each year.
The Federal Trade Commission says that 36% of adults 50 years of age and older fall victim to identity theft every year. An increasing number of these cases are related to taxpayer identity theft and fraud.
Common Types of Identity Theft
Unfortunately, scammers are always on the lookout for opportunities to take advantage of people they think are vulnerable and have good credit. For these criminals, older adults often fit this description.
By stealing their identity, the criminal can apply for credit cards and loans in the senior’s name. A few common tactics scammers use to get your loved one are:
- Junk mail claiming the senior has an unclaimed prize or vacation
- Phishing emails promoting contests or unclaimed prize money
- Phone calls claiming to be from a grandchild in trouble
A very common scam during tax season is a fake call from the IRS claiming the senior owes money that must be paid immediately by phone.
Remind your senior loved one that neither the IRS nor any other government agency will call demanding money. They will communicate via written correspondence.
What Adult Children Should Know About Senior Identity Theft
From phishing scams to theft of mail, here’s what else you should do to protect an older loved one.
Store Medicare and insurance cards in a safe location.
Having your purse or wallet stolen or lost is a hassle at any age. Older adults are more likely to carry personal information that can put them at risk for identify theft.
Help a senior find a safe location at home to store:
- Social Security card
- Documents that contain their Social Security number
- Medicare and health insurance cards
Encourage your loved one to leave these documents at home unless they need them for a specific appointment that day.
Consider enrolling with an identity theft protection company
Another option for seniors to consider is enrolling with a company designed to protect credit and identity. Consumers Advocate suggests exploring:
- MetLife Defender
Review the senior’s credit report at least once a year
Another way to prevent identity theft is by reviewing the senior’s credit report at least once a year. Credit agencies are required by law to furnish one free copy of this report each year. If you review it together you can look for suspicious activity and incorrect information.
If you find something that doesn’t look right, contact the credit bureau to dispute the finding. And if you don’t feel like you are getting resolution, you might need to enlist the services of an identity protection service, an attorney, or even the local police.
Monitor bank and credit card statements regularly
You might also want to extend an offer to your parent to sit down every month or so to help them review their bank and credit card statements. If you live far away, you can do this online. It’s just one more way of protecting your loved one from identity theft or another form of financial fraud.
Legacy Senior Living Blog
Here on the Legacy Senior Living Blog you’ll find other informative and timely posts about all sorts of topics, like how to honor the veterans in your local community, or how to keep a senior loved one safe on Facebook. We hope you will bookmark our blog and stop back often!