In recent years, more and more elderly citizens have found themselves as the victims of identity theft. Senior citizens are often viewed as easy targets, and they fall prey to unsavory individuals looking to profit financially off the misfortune of others. Don't allow yourself to become a statistic. There are plenty of ways to protect yourself from identity theft, even if you are not handling your affairs on your own. Here is a look at how senior citizens can fight back against identity theft.
SEE: Identity Theft: How To Avoid It
Guard Your Personal Information
It is of the utmost importance that vital information, such as your social security number and driver's license number, is guarded vigilantly from outside parties. Do not willingly give this information up to just anyone. Most customer service departments for banks and insurance companies require you to verify your identity for your own protection. Often times, the customer service agent you speak to will require you to verify either your name, address, date of birth, the last four digits of your Social Security number or any combination of this information. Do not give out your personal information willingly. If a customer service agent asks for your full social security number, a red flag should certainly be raised.
Use Caution on the Internet
In today's modern age where just about anything can be done on the Internet from socializing to handling business transactions, you will want to exert caution when browsing the web. While a website may look safe, one wrong click could mean the difference between protecting your finances and falling prey to identity theft. Ensure that your computer has an up-to-date anti-virus program. If at all possible, invest in a program that protects you from spyware, malware, viruses and other types of cyber-attacks that can occur during Internet browsing.
Appoint Someone You Trust to Handle Your Affairs
Handling your affairs such as paying bills and answering insurance queries should be left up to someone you fully trust. Appoint someone you can place your complete trust in, such as a friend or relative. You should feel 100% confident that this person has your best interest at heart. If at any time you feel unsure about the person handling your affairs, speak to someone you trust. After all, this is your money and well-being that is at stake, and the last thing you want is for someone to take advantage of you.
Be Mindful of the Contents of Your Wallet
While it may be convenient for many citizens to carry all of their identification documents, credit cards and money in their wallet, it is not the best way to keep your identity and finances safe. Leave pertinent documents such as your birth certificate, social security card and Medicare identification card at home in a safe place. If your wallet were to go missing or stolen, the person who finds it would have access to all your finances and your identity as well.
Keep a Watchful Eye on Your Credit Report
Examining the contents of your credit report is one sure-fire way to tell if someone has attempted to steal your identity. If you notice some unfamiliar charges on your credit report, do not simply ignore them. Contact the major credit reporting agencies and dispute any unfamiliar charges. The credit reporting agencies will then review your claim and remove them from your report once they have determined that they are indeed fraudulent.
SEE: Check Your Credit Report
The Bottom Line
Although senior citizens often fall victim to identity theft, there are plenty of ways they can protect themselves against this heinous crime. Warding off identity theft is easy when you use common sense and vigilance in maintaining your privacy and vital data.