Identity theft can take away everything a person has worked so hard to build and replace it with uncertainty and fear. Seniors face a higher risk of identity theft because many have diminished mental function and do not recognize warning signs until it is too late.
Families of elderly people can play a detrimental role in protecting their loved ones through actively participating in their life. They can also educate and encourage their elderly loved ones to practice caution when approached by people who demand personal information.
Identity theft in numbers
Identity theft affects a staggering number of people each year in the United States. Motley Fool reports that in the year 2019, 36,337 people reported identity fraud in the state of New York. This put New York in the top five states with the most reported cases of identity theft.
There are a number of ways that people steal another person’s identity. These include utility fraud, credit card fraud, military identity theft, government benefits fraud and funeral scams among others.
Requests for confidential information
When confronted with requests for personal information, elderly people should know how to respond. Experian suggests some tips for reducing the risks of identity theft including the following:
- People should refrain from carrying confidential information on their person such as a Social Security card
- People should disregard phone calls from unknown numbers and remember that relevant communication will involve a voicemail
- People should remember that all formal communication from governmental agencies is primarily through the mail and not electronic
- People should take advantage of direct deposit and direct billing resources to prevent their money from getting into the wrong hands
People should rely on their family members to help them identify suspicious requests. If they do suffer the consequences of identity theft, they have the right to take legal action.