Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
Maintaining the security of your retirement income and savings is more important than ever. According to Centers for Disease Control, people retiring today at age 65 can expect to live roughly another 20 years; and it’s not unusual for people to live even longer.
With decades ahead in which you’ll need your nest egg, it’s vital to keep it from getting raided by identity thieves and scammers. Unfortunately, seniors are favored prey for fraudsters – they often have retirement income and a lucrative amount of money saved.
The same steps you took to protect your identity while you were working can be effective during your retirement. You’ll also need to take some extra steps to prevent identity theft and be especially vigilant during your golden years, including:
• Hang up on cold callers that offer a “sure-fire” investment opportunity.
• Be wary of callers claiming to be a bill collector. Never agree to make payment over the phone. Instead, ask the caller to mail you documentation of the bill – the law requires bill collectors to provide such documentation.
• Thoroughly vet all claims that involve owing someone money. Ask a family member or trusted friend if you’re not sure how to verify a bill.
• Monitor your credit report. Consider using a credit monitoring product that will alert you to possible instances of fraud and walk you through the entire fraud resolution process. These are available with enrollment in freecreditscore.com.
• Keep your Social Security and Medicare cards stored in a safe, locked place. Don’t carry either with you.
• Have Social Security and other income checks directly deposited into your bank account rather than receive paper checks. Crooks have been known to watch seniors’ mailboxes for checks.
• Be aware that the majority of identity theft perpetrated against seniors is done by family and/or friends. Sadly, the people you trust most are best positioned to take advantage. Keep a close eye on your finances.
Identity thieves and financial scammers target older Americans for several reasons. Most seniors tend to be less tech-savvy and are not as aware of online threats as younger generations. Be sure you understand how identity theft can be prevented and you will be well on your way for avoiding identity theft.