7 Identity Theft Prevention Tips for Seniors

Mature older couple using a laptop computer, worrying about their bills and debts
Alamy
While identity theft is a large and growing problem for all demographics in society (even children), seniors tend to be victims of the types of identity theft that experts at the Experian credit bureau say are rising fastest: cases involving tax returns and medical care.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2012 the highest percentage of consumer complaints (18 percent) were about identity theft. Consumers age 60 and older filed 52,610 complaints with the FTC about identity theft in 2012. That's 19 percent of all complaints the agency received on the subject. That number is up from 32,907 two years earlier, when this age group accounted for 13 percent of all ID theft complaints.

Why Are Seniors So Vulnerable?

There are several reasons seniors are at a higher risk of identity theft than their younger counterparts, says Ken Chaplin, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Experian's ProtectMyID.

"Thieves realize seniors are more likely to have paid off loans and are probably carrying less credit card debt than other age groups, which makes them a low risk for creditors," Chaplin says. That means that a criminal applying for credit using an older victim's information is more likely to be approved.

Chaplin says that seniors also don't typically check their credit reports as often as younger age groups, who are more likely to be monitoring their credit in preparation for buying a home, car, or applying for a store or bank credit card. "That means they likely won't see when someone is using their identity to take out a loan or apply for other forms of credit, making seniors an easier target for identity thieves."

Chaplin offers the following tips for seniors to help them avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.


Michele Lerner is a Motley Fool contributing writer.

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mac2jr

Beware of 'out of the blue' phone calls from 'long lost relative' seeking money for bail or accident, or whatever.

September 25 2013 at 9:39 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
mac2jr

Keep duplicates of your personal records off-site, with a relative, in a Safety Deposit Box, etc.

Do not answer all the 'mail requests for charities, most are cons'

Do not put obits in the newspapers, or time of showings, it is an open invitation to crooks

Do not leave car door open when you 'go into the store for a second'

Do not let the Utility person into your home unless you know him or her or can positively id the person, by calling the utility company

Beware that there are over 1,000 different Scams out there, all seeking your money. And most perpetrated by the younger generations.

September 25 2013 at 9:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

Buy a gun grandpa.

September 25 2013 at 9:06 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
muenft

If they are democrats and they say your health coverage is going down by22 percent and they are going to put an additional 30 million uninsured people on the rolls....you know they are lieing .
Is there anyone that will admitt they believed the BS tht came from the democrats to get elected?

September 25 2013 at 6:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to muenft's comment
betty_brock

Lie is what Dems do best.

September 25 2013 at 9:03 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
evnsaffl

On several of the \"slides,\" it\'s impossible to scroll down all the way to read the end of the description of the photo. Glitch???

September 25 2013 at 6:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mjfrancois

#1 Don't carry your medicare card in your wallet. That's like saying leave the house without your insurance card. Seriously, it would make more sense if the government didn't print social security numbers on them in the first place.
#7 Check your credit regularly. This is fine as far as it goes. I've been trying to get the USPS to stop reporting to credit agencies that my home is a business. The former owner (over 16 years ago) had a business here. I don't. Yet the USPS still reports to the credit agencies that mine is a business address. I've been trying for 16 years to have them correct this, but the USPS is either unwilling or incapable of correcting this, so my credit reports, year after year, remain inaccurate. They won't change it if the USPS doesn't.

September 25 2013 at 4:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply