Today, seniors face rampant threats from financial fraudsters scanning the horizon for someone easy to exploit. Identity theft is a serious and growing problem for the elderly in America, with the potential to devastate seniors’ financial security without them ever knowing how it happened.
Seniors make attractive victims because identity thieves are looking for a combination of wealth and naiveté. Older adults are more likely to have accumulated assets, creditworthiness and retirement funds, and many adults become more trusting with age. This is a recipe for disaster without proper precautions.
Identity theft can happen any time sensitive personal and financial information falls into the wrong hands. Some thieves use a person’s good credit to take out exorbitant loans or new credit cards. They may empty the victim’s bank accounts if they can gain access. They may also try to obtain licenses or birth certificates in the person’s name. To help protect your aging parents and loved ones, Placer County Home Care Assistance presents a couple tips which seniors can use to defend themselves from the most common types of identity theft targeting their demographic:
- Keep a Clean Wallet – If you have a loved one who uses Medicare, advise them not to carry their Medicare card in their wallet or purse. It’s very important that seniors prevent discovery of their social security number. Medicare cards, Social Security cards, and other documents revealing sensitive personal data should be stored at home, ideally in a lockbox.
- Run Regular Credit Checks – If you catch identity thieves early enough, it is possible to preempt significant damage. That’s why experts recommend checking one’s credit report on a regular basis. Seniors typically don’t check their credit reports as often as younger age groups, according to credit agencies. However, those that do can often catch identity theft before it gets off the ground. Look for loans or other credit applications that mysteriously appear without explanation.
- Educate Your Loved One – Along with things you can do, it is important to educate your loved one about the most common senior scams. This is especially important if you do not provide live-in care in Placer County and are not able to be with your aging loved one at all times. Explaining how telemarketers and door-to-door salesmen may not be as trusting as they seem, can help eliminate the risk of them giving out information to unscrupulous individuals.
Interested in learning more about senior safety at home? Contact Home Care Assistance of Placer County at 916-226-3737 and speak with a Care Manager – our phone lines are open 24/7!