Approximately 7 percent of households in the United States were affected by identity theft in 2010, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Many identity thieves specifically target seniors and the elderly because they are often less able to spot potential theft attempts than others. If you have an elderly parents, family member, or are a senior, here are some tips you can use to help prevent identity theft.
Tip 1: Don’t provide personal information over the phone or through e-mail.
Many identity thieves attempt to obtain personal information by sending official looking e-mails, letters, and making phone calls which request sensitive data. Any time you receive a call or communication from someone asking you to send your account numbers, date of birth, Social Security number or any other sensitive information, you should ignore it. If you’re concerned it’s legitimate, find the contact information from the business or organization, but from a source other than the letter or email. Contact the company and ask if it’s a legitimate contact. If you’re still unsure, contact your state’s Attorney General’s office.
Tip 2: Review your credit reports and consider a credit freeze.
Every consumer has the right to inspect his or her three consumer credit reports on a yearly basis without charge. You should always inspect your credit reports and review them to ensure that all the information is accurate. If you know you are not going to try to obtain any new loans or credit cards anytime soon, you can also request the credit reporting agencies place a credit freeze on your report. This will prevent anyone, including you, from opening a new account in your name. You can also choose to remove the freeze if you want to open a new account later.