Older people make easy targets for identity thieves.
This is “because they are more trusting and less aware of the increasing variety of scams,” according to the website of an expert on identity theft who offers six tips for helping to protect loved ones from falling victims.
Denver-based John Sileo, according to his firm’s website, became “America’s leading identity theft speaker and expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach.”
“Although most of our older relatives have no interests in the complexities of smartphones, computers, the Internet and online banking, many that give it a try leave themselves defenseless against thieves,” according to the site. “The elderly can be easily targeted online or through the mail in old-fashioned schemes to steal their identity and ultimately their money. They are more likely to tell a stranger stories of their past that include simple password reminders. They are less likely to suspect that an interested individual is a con artist and not just a new friend. They can also be conned through the phone or in person by thieves impersonating a representative from a charity or a well-known company.”
These are the expert’s suggestions for thwarting would-be scammers:
- Online Security. Encourage them to continue to bank in person rather than online and have the bank inform you of any purchase over a certain dollar amount. Also, install security software on any computer they use and keep it up to date. If they do click on a link including a virus their computer and information will be more protected.
- Freeze their credit. A credit freeze is the fastest and easiest way to protect yourself from identity theft. A credit freeze is simply an agreement you make with the three main credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, that they won’t allow new accounts to be attached to your name or Social Security number unless you contact the credit bureau, give them a password and allow them to unfreeze or thaw your account for a short period of time.
- Credit Check and Monitoring Service. If you are not going to do a credit freeze, then frequently check their credit report with them to make sure they understand if any new accounts have been opened.
- Opt Out. Have them opt out of junk mail that comes from financial institutions. They can do this by going to www.OptOutPreScreen.com or by calling 1-888-567-8688.
- Buy them a shredder. By shredding anything that has their name, address, birthday, social security number, or account numbers they will be less likely to have their identity stolen through the trash. Teach them what to shred and make it convenient.
- Keep them Informed. By staying current on the newest scams and social engineering techniques you can not only protect yourself, but also you can protect others.