The headlines have become all too common: identity theft targeting seniors is on the rise. It seems that every week we read of some new scam victimizing retirees or those approaching retirement. The good news is, there are plenty of things you can do to avoid becoming a target. If you’re caring for an aging parent or loved one, some of these tips are especially important.
First, though, a question: what makes seniors so susceptible to fraud? Lawyer Ken LaMance, writing on the website LegalMatch.com, gives some answer. “First,” he writes, “many of them have built up considerable amounts of funds and assets over the span of their lives. Also, many elderly persons have conditions such as dementia which render them unable to make sound financial decisions.” LaMance also notes that financial ignorance can be a factor: some seniors simply “are unfamiliar with the intricacies of modern credit arrangements” so they don’t ask enough tough questions.
And, sadly, there’s also a culture of trust among seniors that plays a part. LaMance concludes, “Many [seniors] grew up in a different cultural environment that honored word-of-mouth transactions.” This makes seniors more willing, even eager to trust people they may not know.
There are a host of articles and resources to help seniors and those who care for them avoid the pain and loss of identity theft. Here’s a good article from the website www.bankrate.com. The article explains that seniors make an attractive target because many thieves are looking to establish credit for themselves – opening new credit card accounts, for example, or qualifying for car loans. Many retirees have excellent credit history which makes their identities especially tempting targets.
So what do you do to protect yourself?
The article suggests you start by determining whom you will trust. Never hire a caregiver outside your own family that you have not vetted through a comprehensive background check. And if any caregiver starts showing inappropriate interest in your finances, be very cautious.
Common sense tips include never disclosing confidential information like Social Security numbers or account numbers without a very good reason. The article also reminds seniors to monitor their credit reports for any suspicious or unauthorized activity.
There’s more, so we encourage you to read and heed these suggestions and admonitions. After all, if you desire to maintain independence in retirement and avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones, protecting your financial health is essential. To get more answers to questions about financial health in retirement – and much, much more – why not start your retirement planning by attending one of our highly popular LifePlanning Seminars? You’ll come away with a wealth of practical ideas to help you chart a course for a better retirement.
We offer LifePlanning Seminars free of charge at locations around the region. Click on the Upcoming Events tab for details.
(Originally reported at www.bankrate.com)