Identity Theft Plagues Unsuspecting Seniors

Posted on

Sep 14, 2011

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Florida - Southwest

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In our fast-paced technology-driven world, an abundant amount of information about each and every one of us is readily accessible. Information like addresses, professional licenses, criminal history, property holdings and bankruptcy filing is legally gathered by interested parties and organizations and then shared with others. This open access to personal information does not mean that as savvy consumers we cannot take sufficient precaution to prevent our prized personal information from being stolen. Here are some simple, basic tips to help prevent being victimized by identity theft.
Be sure to shred all unsolicited applications received in the mail for pre-approved credit cards rather than just discarding in the trash. Dumpster divers retrieve the applications and complete them, cash the blank checks or simply steal your personal information from your trash. Shred all personal information. If you don't have a shredder, look for a shredding event in your community or suggest to your financial institutions that it would be a great service to provide for its customers.
If someone posing as your bank calls and asks for your account number, social security number or any personal information, try to secure the callers phone number, hang up, and then report the call to your bank. Reputable businesses, and all human service agencies like Medicare and Social Security, never make unsolicited calls to obtain any personal information. Be sure to balance your checkbook monthly and review all credit card statements as soon as you receive them to assure that all charges and balances are correct and no one is illegally accessing your accounts. To prevent telemarketers from obtaining your phone number, sign up for the Federal Trade Commission Do Not Call list. To sign up, simply call 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register, or register the phone number(s) on line at www.donotcall.gov.
Many of us use the internet for emailing, shopping and financial transactions. It is very important to change your computer passwords often and assign passwords that are secure and difficult to decode.
Take advantage of free credit reports to verify that no one is using your credit. Free reports (1 per year) are available from Equifax (800-525-6285), Experian (1-888-397-3742) and Transunion (1-800-680-7289) or online at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft, report it immediately to law enforcement, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (1-877-438-4338) and contact your financial institution and all credit card companies.

Editors Note: This article was submitted by Marilyn Gregory, Elder Abuse Prevention Coordinator Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida, Inc. 239-652-6900 Ext. 240. gregorym@elderaffairs.org

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