According to the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, older Americans lose three billion dollars a year in financial scams. Unfortunately, the older population has always been the primary target of identity thieves since they’re often socially isolated, tend to be overly trusting, and are the most prone to memory loss. Here’s how you can protect your elderly loved one from becoming a victim of identity theft.
Why Elderly Citizens are Most Vulnerable to Identity Theft
It’s no surprise that the elderly are a favorite target of scammers. Firstly, this group has the most number of individuals with memory issues or even dementia, directly impacting their ability to make sound decisions. Those who are socially isolated due to health reasons or being widowed would not be able to get advice on what to do when such situations happen, and so they tend to fall into scams more easily. Older individuals are also often blackmailed by scammers who tell them a loved one has been kidnapped or that they will be arrested by the Internal Revenue Service if they fail to comply with the scammer’s set of instructions. On top of these factors, the older population is generally at a point in their lives where they have an impressive nest of savings and investments, marking them the perfect target.
Types of Identity Theft
There are a variety of identity scams out there that your loved one should be aware of:
- Phone scams – Victims are usually being contacted to claim a free vacation or donate to a charity, all with the goal of getting your card details and other personal information.
- IRS scams – During the tax period, bogus IRS calls start happening, threatening victims with arrest because they supposedly have not made their payments. Scammers will then demand payment immediately.
- Medicare fraud – Typically, someone who claims to be part of a health care provider requests for personal information that is “missing” from your medical records.
- Tech scams – Have you seen advertisements on tabs warning you of a virus on your phone? What usually happens is that scammers will ask for your card details to replace your current software.
Preventing Your Loved Ones from Falling Victim to Identity Theft
Teaching your elderly loved ones to develop healthy skepticism and awareness about identity theft is crucial to prevent them from falling victim to these scams. Here are a few general tips you can follow:
- If a caller is from an unknown number, leave the call to voicemail. Scammers rarely leave any messages to follow up.
- Government agencies usually send letters when needing to contact you regarding important information.
- Add contact information of all family members, friends, health providers, and anyone else who your loved ones regularly get into contact with to know whether a call is legitimate or not.
Why Choose Discovery Village At Westchase?
At our retirement community, we offer various senior living options designed to suit the older population with different needs and preferences.