You work hard to make a living and secure money for your retirement. Many older adults are excited to celebrate active lifestyles from this hard earned money. Celebrating and enjoying retirement can include traveling the world, developing new hobbies or simply spending time family. One run-in with identity theft can foil all these plans.
Adults over the age of 60 are prime targets for identity thieves. Identity thieves and cybercriminals target retired adults because they generally carry less credit card debt and fewer loans. Their medical insurance, Medicare, and tax information is highly desirable to cyber thieves as well.
Older adults tend to be more trusting causing them to be vulnerable to scams. The best thing you can do is be knowledgeable about possible theft or share this knowledge with your loved one. No one wants their nest egg to hatch until it is on their own terms.
If you are asked to donate funds or supply money to an investment opportunity from someone you don’t know, hang up the phone. You will not receive phone calls from a legit financial company out of the blue. Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is not true. Also, never give out any personal information over the phone especially credit card numbers unless you made the phone call to purchase something.
To help prevent some of these calls, older adults are encouraged to sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry.
Another type of fraud is the use of Medicare information to gain medical treatment or create false claims for the thieves themselves. Always ask your doctor for a copy of your medical records and review your medical history carefully. If something appears out of sorts, report immediately. Having incorrect information in your records can affect your insurance coverage and ultimately affect your health with treatment restrictions.
Always be aware if your physician ordered you medical equipment. Talk to your physician first before accepting “free equipment” from some unanimous call.
Keeping Important Documents Safe
Always store Social Security numbers and medical information in a secure place. Do not carry this information with you. These documents are best left at home.
You can also choose to have Social Security checks deposited directly into a bank account. Identity thieves do also target mailboxes for important documents. Always monitor your mail and read all medical bills, insurance and bank statements. Watch for unexplained charges. Keep track of any documents you feel are missing.
Stay Mindful Of Your Credit Score
Just because you may not need a loan, doesn’t mean you should relax on checking your credit score regularly. Fraudulent activity usually appears on first on these credit reports. If you or your loved ones have no desire to get a loan or request of credit of any kind, consider placing a freeze on the account to prevent fraudulent activity.
Bank Accounts And Investments
Savings accounts and retirement nest eggs are always in the thieves’ eyes for possible targets. Keep a close eye on your 401(k) and your savings accounts. It is also helpful to work with a trusted financial advisor. Also consider changing your 401(k) into an IRA to avoid your account being frozen if it is breached.
Also place limitations on the amount of money that can be withdrawn from your account showing identification. Also put limits on ATM cards in addition to someone going into the bank to withdrawal money.
When traveling, avoid using public Wi-Fi spots when making online transactions over an unsecured network. Also have the post office place a hold on your mail. Continue to monitor bank accounts while you are away.
Reverse Mortgage Scams
In many reported scams, seniors are offered free homes, investment opportunities and foreclosure refinance assistance. Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements and be suspicious of anyone claiming that you can own a home with no down payment. Do not sign anything you do not fully understand. Talk to your own reverse mortgage counselor before making any decisions.
Be sure to avoid any get rich quickly scheme. Having a trusted financial advisor should be your go to person to discuss investment opportunities. Always verify the legitimacy of every company before investing.
Be sure to keep an eye on your loved ones to protect their hard work. Not just wealthy seniors are targeted. Low-income older adults can also be at risk for financial crimes. Also beware that it is not always strangers who target senior adults – family members can also be identity thieves.