We welcome back guest blogger, Maria Alice to The Purple Jacket!
Unfortunately seniors are a popular target for identity thieves. Criminals see senior citizens as more easily influenced and assume that they have assets to plunder. As a caregiver, you can educate your seniors with tips to help prevent them from being victimized and help them out whenever possible as well. The following are some of the most valuable ways your elder loved ones can avoid identity theft.
Protect Personal Documents
Many people are in the habit of carrying around personal documents, like social security cards and insurance cards, in a purse or wallet, believing it would be safer when its on your person. However, this is not the case. It’s better to keep this personal information in a secure place at home, such as in a locked safe, just in case your senior forgets or loses their bag somewhere or it gets stolen. Additionally, make sure that all documents containing personal information or account numbers are shredded when not needed anymore as identity thieves can easily search your trash.
Avoid Phone and Door-to-Door Scams
Never give out personal information over the phone. This includes insurance numbers, social security numbers, credit card numbers and any other financial information. Instead, they should request that the information be sent in the mail or done in person. Unscrupulous door-to-door salespeople may see seniors as easy marks when it comes to selling them things they don’t need at over-inflated prices. Some examples are unnecessary insurance and home services. One popular scam involves giving a “free” inspection of the heating/cooling system and then finding “urgent repairs” that are needed.
Practice Safe Online Behavior
Make sure your loved one monitors their credit report. Many seniors don’t realize that they can monitor their credit reports online and even put a freeze on inquiries. You may be able to use a good antivirus program that is updated regularly. This will help prevent viruses on your computer that capture personal and financial information. It is vitally important to create strong passwords and change them from time to time. Different accounts should have different passwords as having the same password for everything would help a hacker gain access to all your accounts and personal information.
Be Mindful of Home Security
Always keep doors and windows locked whether you are at home or away. Unlocked doors are an invitation to thieves. Seniors might not even know that anything is missing until they see unknown charges on their credit card bill. Make sure that your home security system is maintained, including cameras, automatic locks, and arming your house while you are away. Different houses have different necessities, so it’s important to research different websites to find one that caters to your needs.
Sharing these tips will help seniors in your care avoid the heartache and hassle of being victimized. Identity theft is on the rise; our most vulnerable citizens need to be aware of the threat. Protecting personal documents, avoiding phone and email scams while being proactive about home security can weave a safety net around us. As a caregiver, your help can be instrumental in preventing senior identity theft.
Maria Alice is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.