According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, one in forty-four cases of financial abuse of seniors is ever reported. As one of the most vulnerable demographics, there are many factors that play into the disadvantages seniors have in protecting themselves from identity theft and fraud including general isolation and cognitive impairments. It is the responsibility of banks and family members to educate and assist the older population from the dangers of telephone and internet identity theft.
Most Common Methods of Senior Identity Theft
Often times, seniors can be taken advantage of by those that seem to be closest to them. It is, unfortunately, a common occurrence for caretakers, family members, or close acquaintances to take advantage of the vulnerable state of these individuals. These people who seem to have their best interest in mind often take advantage by stealing their ATM cards or checkbooks, using the Power of Attorney to take control of finances, or falsifying time sheets to get paid extra.
There seems to be a new telephone scam arising each week. From fake charities making calls for donations to individuals posing as the IRS, there could be danger behind every ring of the telephone. Seniors who live alone are especially vulnerable to these types of scams because they are alone in judging the validity of the scammer on the other end. Often times, they are convinced to provide private information such as their social security and account numbers to scammers.
While the older generation isn’t quite as tech-savvy, they’re still a very active group of people online. Seniors can often get caught up in a scam or spammy emails that lead to phishing and identity theft. In addition, sometimes fake profiles of a loved one can target them privately on social media by pretending to need money in an emergency.
How to Protect Your Loved One
The best way to protect your elder loved ones from identity theft is to keep them educated on the latest techniques and check in with them frequently. There are endless resources to find the most current scams circulating online or over the phone. It’s important to stay aware of the latest trends in identity theft because they are always changing.
In addition to staying on top of the latest scams, it’s important to seek out the best protection possible, too. Make sure private papers are kept in a locked file cabinet and that mail is never left in the mailbox for an extended period of time. You can also take measures to lock and monitor your credit. Services like LifeLock will monitor your financial activity for you to let you know if there are any red flags and can help you take the steps to recover if needed.
If you believe that you or a loved one has had their identity stolen, HomeTown Bank has compiled a helpful Identity Theft Repair Kit to get you back on track.