Posted on 2016-02-25 09:00:06
Identity theft continues to be a growing problem for everyone, but seniors are often victims of two types of identity theft that are on the rise: tax return fraud and medical identity theft. There are several reasons why senior make good identity theft targets. Seniors have spent a lifetime building their credit and retirement savings. They likely have more available credit and savings, making them a better risk for creditors. Seniors also tend to be more trusting. As seniors age, they may require help from strangers who are not always trustworthy. Older seniors are easier to scare into giving up personal information to someone on the phone. Here are some tips to help seniors avoid becoming identity theft victims. And when they do become a victim, seniors are less likely to report identity theft for fear that family members will think they are no longer capable of handling their own affairs. Identity thieves look for the easiest targets, and they often find that in seniors. Here are 5 tips to help seniors lessen their risk of becoming an identity theft victim. 1. Protect Your Medicare card. If your Medicare card has your complete Social Security number on it, block out all but the last four digits. Never, ever, give your Medicare information to someone by phone or in response to an email. 2. Guard your Social Security card. Social Security cards are valuable to identity thieves. Social Security numbers often open the door to more information about you—information you do not want to fall into the wrong hands. Doctors often ask for your Social Security number but don’t usually need it. If your doctor insists, ask what measures are in place to protect your personal information including your Social Security number.
Posted on 2015-09-30 09:00:57
A recently released Justice Department report indicates there were 17.4 million identity theft victims in 2014. How were these victims targeted? The vast majority (86%) were targeted for credit card and bank account fraud. • 8.6 million had their credit card information compromised. • 8.1 million had a bank account compromised. When identity theft involves credit cards, the goal is often to max out the accounts before the cardholder realizes the cards are missing or have been used fraudulently. But identity theft involving credit cards may go deeper. Criminals may hack into credit card accounts online, changing settings such as an address, and open new accounts. They can do this without physical possession of a credit card. The statistics reveal that about 7 percent of all U.S. residents over the age of 16 were victims of identity theft. The total financial loss for all victims was reported to be $15.4 billion. Very few identity theft victims—less than 10 percent—report the crime to the police. Yet notifying the police is an important step that can help in the resolution process.
Reduce Your Risk of Becoming an Identity Theft Victim No one is immune to identity theft, but it is possible to reduce your risk of becoming a victim. Here are the top 3 things you can do to protect your identity: 1. Keep your personal information safe. Remember that all an identity thief needs is one piece of critical information to steal your identity. Secure personal documents at home. Go paperless to the extent possible. When you dispose of documents with personal information, shred them first. 2. Limit the personal information revealed online. Information such as your birth date or where you live are valuable tools in the hands of an identity thief. Keep personal information private. 3. Keep tabs on your accounts. It only takes a few minutes to review your credit card and bank accounts weekly, yet this step can put an early stop to identity theft. A credit monitoring service can also help you keep tabs on new information reported on your credit report, also helping put an early stop to identity theft.
Posted on 2015-09-07 09:00:53
Identity theft is no stranger to the teen population. According to one study, children under the age of 18 are twice as likely to become identity theft victims as their parents. Teens make easy identity theft targets because they usually have clean credit reports (or none at all). Couple that with the typical teen’s trusting nature, and the stage is set for identity theft. Here are 5 steps that can help protect your teen from identity theft.1. Keep bank information private. Teenagers may not see the harm in sharing personal information with friends. But sharing personal information is a dangerous habit to start. All it takes is one less-than-honest or desperate friend to open the door for identity theft. Encourage your teen not to hand over the keys to his identity by sharing personal information. 2. Limit exposure on social media. Most teens are on at least one social media network such as Facebook or Twitter. And most of them are friends with people they hardly know or don’t know at all. Once something is posted, control of that information is forever lost. Identity thieves hang out on social media sites looking for opportunities. Teach your teen to limit exposure on social media networks.
3. Keep a lean wallet. Your teen should never carry more than is necessary in his wallet. Old-fashioned pick-pocketing is still popular with identity thieves. Social Security numbers are especially valuable, and there is usually no reason for a teen to carry his Social Security card in his wallet. 4. Shred, shred, and shred some more. Help your teen get in the habit of shredding anything with personal information before getting rid of it. Unsolicited credit card offers contain a wealth of personal information that makes it easy for an identity thief to open credit in your teen’s name. Buy a shredder and use it to discard of anything with personal information. 5. Monitor your teen’s credit report. Once your child starts using credit, teach him the importance of knowing what is on his credit report. Review it periodically to check for accuracy. That’s often where evidence of identity theft first shows up. A credit monitoring service is an easy and effective way to keep tabs on your teen’s credit report.
Posted on 2015-06-10 09:00:48
Keeping your personal data personal can be challenging. It’s almost certainly already out there in a lot of places. With identity theft commonplace today, it’s important to learn when to say No, especially when asked for your Social Security number. Social Security numbers used to be the standard identification number used by just about everyone. They are unique, making them a convenient way to identify individuals. But, Social Security numbers are a key piece of information used by identity thieves to create new identities. It is especially important to safeguard your Social Security number today. There are entities that still need your Social Security number today, such as state motor vehicle departments, welfare offices and tax authorities use Social Security numbers to verify identities. Social Security numbers are required by businesses such as banks that report to the IRS. And Social Security numbers are the key identifier used by credit card issuers and on credit reports, so lenders and landlords may need them.
Who else really needs your Social Security number today? One thing is for sure. It’s not everyone who asks for it. Many businesses continue to ask for it just because that’s the way it was done in the past. They might not even use it for anything, but it’s there in your file where it can potentially fall into the wrong hands. With the risk of identity theft so high, consumers need to be on guard. When someone asks for your Social Security number, ask why they might need it. If you aren’t satisfied with the answer, say “No.” Here are a few places where your Social Security number should not be required: Public schools. Your address can be confirmed with a utility bill. Rewards programs. Rewards programs are not financial obligations. They are merely marketing tools and should not require your Social Security number. Job applications. It’s not until you are hired that an employer needs your Social Security number. However, some employers now check credit reports as part of the hiring progress, and they would need your Social Security number to do so. But, your permission is required. It may be hiding in the fine print. There is no need to go to extremes. Using common sense before providing your Social Security number can minimize your risk of becoming an identity theft victim. Recognize that some entities have a legitimate need and right to it, but others are just asking out of habit, ignorance or with evil intent. Keep identity theft in the back of your mind before handing it over.
Posted on 2015-04-22 10:00:52
Earth Day is April 22, a time when many focus on reducing their carbon footprint. There is another footprint that deserves your attention—your identity footprint. Your identity footprint includes all of the personal data you leave behind. It includes digital data, but also your identity paper trail. The reality is it doesn’t take much—just a few key pieces of information--for someone to be able to create an identity. Key pieces of information may include your Social Security number and date of birth. It makes sense to think about how you can minimize your risk of becoming an identity theft victim by reducing your identity footprint. Some things are beyond your control. Here are 6 steps you can take to control your identity footprint.