Seniors citizens across the country are being targeted by identity thieves hoping to profit from all the hard work they've done to build their credit history over a number of decades.
According to the Rockwall (Texas) Herald Banner, the criminal district attorney for Rockwall County has enacted an education program to alert seniors in the area to the very real dangers they face from identity thieves. Kenda Culpepper wants the elderly to understand that these fraudsters want not only the information from their bank and credit card accounts, but they can also use their name, birth date, Social Security number, driver's license number and other information to do everything from opening new accounts to buying cars.
"Identity thieves have become very clever in trying to get your personal information because that's what they want," Culpepper said during one recent program, the paper reported. "They want your personal information so they can become you and use your credit history and use your financial responsibility."
She warned that the fraudsters will go to any length to acquire the information, the paper reported. While seniors may be aware that identity thieves may try to steal their wallet or purse, they may not know that they could also root through the trash and steal mail so that they can submit a change of address form. With the new address, the thief can have any number of items shipped straight to them with their victim completely unaware of the crime.
Culpepper told the paper that criminals tend to view senior citizens as easy targets because the elderly tend to be more polite and trusting, and they have difficulty hanging up on or saying no to someone on the other end of a phone call. In addition, she said, some are lonely and more willing to talk to someone that is not trustworthy. Seniors also are less likely to report fraud to police and their local district attorney.
A report in the Richmond (Indiana) Palladium-Item said that identity thieves have begun targeting recently-widowed senior citizens by calling and saying they need the deceased's credit card numbers to prevent undetected fraud. Once they have that information, they can make all kinds of purchases, typically without their bereaved victim being aware.