Identity Theft Targeting the Elderly Is on the Rise

Senior Law News | Dec 8, 2012 | Hook Law Center

Identity theft can occur in a number of ways, including someone hacking into an online account, stealing a credit card number or bank account number or other financial documents, applying for loans in someone else’s name, or illegally obtaining birth certificates or driver’s licenses.

Seniors tend to be targeted because they are especially vulnerable in ways that allow for easier opportunities for theft; they may be isolated, they may not be as “web-savvy” as members of a younger demographic, they may be lonely enough to ignore questionable behavior, or they may have dementia or memory loss.

There are countless ways to steal someone’s identity, including:

Mail. Shred all personal documents, including bank and credit card statements, before placing them in the trash. If you receive a solicitation letter asking for a donation, double-check the identity of the sender.

Phishing. Fake emails claiming to be from financial institutions or online companies such as Amazon or eBay ask seniors to “verify” their account information. As a general rule, companies with online payment systems do not email customers to ask for or verify payment, banking or personal information.

Credit card double swiping. It only takes a moment for a thief working behind a counter or cashing out a register bill to quickly swipe a credit card and capture the account numbers. Safety tip: Keep an eye on someone who has control of your credit card, when possible. Regularly check bank statements to ensure that no unauthorized purchases have been made.

If you are a senior and feel you may have been the victim of identity theft, contact an elder law attorney to explore any remedial measures you may be able to take to minimize the damage.

The elder law attorneys at Hook Law Center assist Virginia families with will preparation, trust & estate administration, guardianships and conservatorships, long-term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more.

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