4 Ways to Protect Against Identity Theft

by Sandra Bernardo

 

While anyone can be a victim of identity theft, older adults may be at even more of a risk than the general population. According to the Department of Justice, the number of older adult victims of identity theft increased from 2.1 million in 2012 to 2.6 million in 2014. This increase is likely due to the fact that older adults often live alone and crave companionship, and also have fading memories, which makes them easy prey for identity thieves.
What’s more is that identity theft in older adults can be truly tragic as bank accounts are drained and retirement funds vanish, leaving victims without any resources. Protecting yourself and family members can be simple if you know where to start.
Here are four ways to keep your nest eggs safe.

  1. Get a shredder. A small cross-cut shredder can really go a long way to protect yourself or family members from identity theft. With thieves Dumpster diving for personal information, shredders can be used to destroy unneeded personal documents, receipts, pre-approved credit offers, unused or old checks and any other items that include personal information.
  2. Protect your mail. Leaving outgoing mail in the mailbox for the postman is never a good idea. Thieves can quite easily snatch mail waiting to be picked up, including letters that include checks or other personal information. Take outgoing letters to the post office, and consider purchasing a mailbox with a lock for added protection.
  3. Monitor your accounts. Monitor your statements as well as credit information online. You can even set up credit monitoring and bank alerts to make this a seamless process. Products such as Experian CreditWorks are an option for people looking for comprehensive credit monitoring.
  4. Be aware of identity thieves. Identity thieves take many forms, and losing your personal information can be detrimental. Never give out personally identifiable information like a Social Security number or bank account number over the phone, and remember, a legitimate business will never ask for this type of information.