While data breaches and other financial scams have exposed millions to identity fraud, one group of people are often a target of scammers… Senior citizens.
What Makes Seniors Vulnerable?
There are many reasons seniors are targeted by cybercriminals:
- Spending more time at medical offices and using government resources – two industries often targeted by cybercriminals.
- Aging and changes that occur – such as dementia – can directly impact the ability to make good decisions.
- Isolation, if widowed or less mobile due to health reasons.
- Certain situations can affect emotions … fear of arrest by the IRS or attention from someone they met online.
Without support to provide help, seniors can be victims of fraud.
How Are Seniors Being Targeted?
Some of the most common types of senior identity theft include: Tech support scams; Medicare or other medical identity theft; IRS scams; estate identity theft or funeral scams; military identity theft; grandparent scam; and romance scams.
Seniors can also be targeted by stealing any type of government-issued identification, banking information or online data.
Scammers can even target you through text message or SMS phishing. Deceptive text messages lure consumers into providing personal or financial information, often impersonating a government agency, bank or credit union, or other companies.
Staying aware can help older adults avoid becoming victims of identity theft. To better protect yourself or your loved ones:
- Add contact information of family members, close friends, health providers or anyone who might regularly call. This will help you know you’re receiving a legitimate call.
- If you don’t recognize a phone number, let it go to voicemail. Scammers rarely leave messages.
- Don’t be afraid to hang up. If you do answer the phone, it’s safe to hang up if a stranger asks for personal or financial information.
- Remember that government agencies send letters about important information. They don’t call or send email or text messages.
- Check your financial records, credit card statements and bank accounts regularly to make sure there aren’t any suspicious charges.
- Don’t carry your Social Security number. Only carry your Medicare card and other medical cards when you need it.
- Keep your checks in a safe location if you have at-home care and service. You should have your checks direct-deposited into your account. This reduces the risk of the check and other valuable information getting to a thief’s hands.
- Always ask for help. You should get another opinion from a trusted friend or family member or do research if you’re unsure about something.
- If it sounds too good to be true or if the contact is threatening, it’s probably a scam.
For more information about senior identity theft and how to protect your loved ones, download our senior safety tips and tricks (please note that the guide will open in a new window in a portable document format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Please make sure Adobe Acrobat Reader is up to date with the latest version).