Why Seniors Are Targets for Identity Theft

August 9, 2012

Seniors are targets for identity theft for a couple of good reasons. They often have a lot of savings thanks to their retirement plans and they receive a good number of services from the government. It can make your relaxing latter years a nightmare if you become a victim. The best weapon against this happening is looking out for common scams.

One of the most common is the grandparent scam. This one is often perpetuated due to teens sharing too much of their information on social networking sites. If an identity thief is able to get the teen’s phone number, he can spoof it and give you a call. He can do the same thing by finding a cell phone and looking for “grandma” or the like in the contacts list. He will give you a call and tell you your grandchild is in trouble and needs you to wire money. Most commonly, he’ll say the person is traveling overseas and has become stranded. You wire the money to an account and the thief gets your money, and your bank information.

Another common one is the lottery or sweepstakes scam. In this one, you’re told you won a prize, in a contest you did not enter. Sometimes you’ll get a check or money order in the mail, and you’ll be notified that need to pay some administrative fees before you can cash it. Once you wire these fees, or cough up your account information so that the thief can pull the money, you’re free to deposit the funds, which will turn out to not be available.

Perhaps the worst scam you can get victimized with is the health plan scam. In this one, you get offered the chance to save money by subscribing to a prescription or discount Medicare plan. Of course, you have to provide your Medicare number so that you can get a proper estimate. Then, the thief can use your plan to get services and the bills will go to the government using your name and contact information. It can affect your benefits and you could end up pegged with having a medical condition that you don’t even have. This can cause serious consequences.

Don’t give out personal information to people who call you or come by your home unsolicited. And remember that it’s not too late to sign up for an identity theft protection plan. They are not just important in your early adult years when you plan on making a lot of major purchases. Instead, they are a wonderful lifelong investment – especially since you can change plans to adapt to your differing needs.