Any American, regardless of their age, can fall victim to identity theft if the proper precautions are not taken. However, some groups are more vulnerable to the crime than others, including senior citizens. Older Americans should understand their personal risk of identity theft and take measures to safeguard their information to reduce the chances of this crime.
"Anyone with a Social Security number needs to be aware of the risk of identity theft," ProtectMyID.com general manager Jennifer Leuer told consumer website ARAcontent. "Seniors, however, should be especially vigilant about identity theft protection, because they are often a preferred target of identity thieves and scammers."
Many older Americans may feel that using credit cards and computer technology less will protect them from identity theft and fraud, but there are many other ways to thieves can gain access to their personal information. For example, some states clearly display a patient's Social Security number on their Medicare card, the newspaper said. This allows any bystander with bad intentions to view a senior's information while they are presenting their card or paying for a prescription.
The exposure of a senior's personal information is also increased due to their presence at facilities, such as nursing homes, hospitals and doctor's offices, the website reports. Given the large amount of medical and financial data that may be stored and transferred to various facilities, the risk of a data breach may grow if the organizations do not properly protect their systems.
The website also notes that many seniors may be less savvy with technology than their younger counterparts, making them more vulnerable to online phishing scams and viruses.
According to data from the National Crime Prevention Council, Americans that fall victim to identity theft spend an average of 30 hours cleaning up after the criminals - including canceling credit cards, contacting lenders and filing police reports. In order to save time and money, the NCPC recommends educating oneself on the how criminals commit fraud and identity theft as well preventative measures that can be taken to reduce their risk.
Obtaining a copy of a consumer's credit report each year is one of the best ways they can both stay on top of their finances and detect identity theft.