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.

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    Key Questions to Ask Before Moving in Together

    Moving in together is a big step. Here are some key financial questions to ask your partner before you make the move.
  2. Retirement

    5 Best Cruise Lines for a Recent Retiree

    The best cruise lines plan everything for you – the food, the entertainment and the itinerary. But pick a line with a compatible program and people.
  3. Retirement

    What to Do When Your Doctor Doesn't Take Medicare

    Stay and pay the full fee? Cut and run to another provider? Five ways to cope when Medicare threatens to break up you and your medico.
  4. Investing News

    This is the Fastest-Growing Consumer Complaint

    There’s no way to guarantee that your Social Security number won’t fall into the wrong hands. Here are some ways to make yourself less of a target.
  5. Professionals

    Prevent Employees From Hacking You Computer System

    Cyber security attacks from a current or ex-employee can cause a lot of pain. Here is how to avoid such attacks.
  6. Retirement

    10 Ways to Retrofit Your House for a Senior

    A checklist of renovations a residence may need as you get older – or if you have an elderly person living with you.
  7. Credit & Loans

    Your Credit Score: More Important Than You Know

    Credit scores affect key aspects of your personal and professional life. Knowing your score and managing your credit input can make a big difference.
  8. Credit & Loans

    Bad Credit? You Can Still Get a Home Equity Loan

    If your credit history is less than stellar and you need cash, you may be able to get financing – but it will come at a price.
  9. Credit & Loans

    Yes, You Can Buy a Home with a Reverse Mortgage

    A special type of FHA-insured reverse mortgage called the HECM for Purchase lets seniors use a reverse mortgage to buy a home.
  10. Credit & Loans

    How to Avoid Outliving Your Reverse Mortgage

    Running out of proceeds sooner than you expected to is one of the major risks of taking out a reverse mortgage.
  1. Are continuing care retirement communities accredited?

    Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) can be accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Will my credit score suffer from debt consolidation or refinancing?

    You have several options for reducing your debt burden. You can enroll in a professional debt management plan, or consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How should a whistleblower report unlawful or unethical behavior?

    Whistleblowing takes many forms. A whistleblower could expose government corruption, expose unethical business behavior or ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do insurance companies use a whistleblower?

    Fraudulent claims are among the most prevalent and serious business risks that insurance companies face. Many consumers have ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What types of liens are seen as good and which are bad for my credit?

    Creditors that allow purchases to be made through financing often require property to be pledged against a credit account; ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the best way to start to rebuild your credit after a bankruptcy?

    Bankruptcies can be devastating to your credit score. Even worse, a bankruptcy will be listed on your credit report for between ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  2. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  3. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  4. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  5. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
  6. Normal Profit

    An economic condition occurring when the difference between a firm’s total revenue and total cost is equal to zero.
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!