Identity theft is a nightmare that can devastate personal finances, credit scores, as well as your mental sanity. It is especially common amongst seniors. In case an identity theft disaster ever happens to you or a loved one, it is beneficial to understand the types of identity theft and how to best handle them.
The Four Major Types of Identity Theft
Although fraud can happen in a variety of ways, there are four major types of identity theft:
Social Identity Theft: Concerns stealing personal information like your name and pictures to create a fake account on social media.
Medical Identity Theft: Includes taking another person’s medical ID number to get services or try and get medical reimbursements from your healthcare provider.
Tax Identity Theft : Occurs when somebody steals your social security number to access your tax refund.
Child Identity Theft : Involves cases where thieves will use children’s’ names and social security numbers to open new accounts, such as for credit cards.
It is best to understand the different types of theft that may occur in order to protect yourself in the event something happens.
Identity Theft Prevention
The first step in prevention of identity theft among seniors is to protect any online accounts, passwords, and activity. Utilize online banking to monitor all credit card statements and contact the bank immediately if any unusual transactions appear.
With seniors, hiring a caregiver to help support with these tasks is very common. Take this a step further by monitoring activity on your seniors healthcare records and cell phone accounts. Once essential online accounts are set up, it’s easy to add alerts – via text or email, that will notify you of any suspicious activity.
One easy way to stay up to date on scamming trends and methods is to use the FTC Scam Alert list. It is updated regularly to keep clients informed. Oftentimes, thieves will use phone calls posing as financial collectors or medical organizations. It is best to contact your banks and healthcare companies directly if this ever happens to verify the request is valid.
Noticing Signs of Identity Theft
Quickly noticing signs of identity theft is an important tool for taking care of seniors identity. Some common signs of identity theft are if monthly bills stop being delivered to the home, an increase of phone calls from debt collectors about debt that is not yours, inaccurate information on credit card reports, or bank accounts freezes unexpectedly. If you notice any suspicious activity, with a seniors account it must handled right away.
In the event you are certain your loved ones identity is being stolen, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.identitytheft.gov/. You may also contact the police. Freeze all accounts that might have been impacted, and change passwords and pins. Be transparent and communicate with the companies that were impacted, being clear that you believe their identity has been stolen.
Identity theft is an unfortunate situation that has the capacity to impact numerous people. Because of this, stay educated on current scams and the most up to date way to handle them!