Stealing Grandpa’s Identity: The perfect crime?

Published by on May 9, 2017 in Information Security

Identify theft is becoming increasingly common, and we’re all at risk of it. However, older generations are disproportionately preyed upon. Seen as “easy targets,” senior adults make up a large percentage of those targeted by scammers – but why?

This data visualization delves into the demographics of senior adults and why they’re on the hit list of many identity thieves. We take a look at their financial situations and how these factors play a role – including their higher savings, larger assets and impeccable credit scores. We also look at how they’re more socially vulnerable, often being isolated and exposed to social situations that make them open targets for threats, such as having their medical records stolen.

With many Grandpas and Grandmas at risk of becoming the next victims of identity theft, we’ve added in some handy tips as to how you can protect your elderly loved ones from these crimes. We’ll cover protecting their computers and their medical records to make sure their data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
Identity Theft Seniors

Senior adults account for a disproportionate amount of identity theft committed in the United States. The reasons are simple: they have more cash, more assets, and better credit scores.

But it’s not about just what they have; if that were the case, criminals would only target millionaires. Senior adults are also more vulnerable. Many cannot live alone and are required to either live in a nursing home or invite other people into their home for assistance. If strangers can access their home, there is a good chance they can also access senior adults computers, phones, mail, and credit cards.

Seniors are also at higher risk of medical identity theft due to their more frequent visits to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Medical fraudsters with access to someone’s medical records can gain access to pharmaceuticals, government benefits, and medical equipment.

Finally, senior adults are less likely to tell someone that they’ve been victimized. Many seniors are socially isolated, and feel they can’t discuss important matters with anyone. Obviously, this works in favor of identity thieves.

Chances are, our parents and grandparents will not see this data visualization. That’s why it’s important to sit down and have a serious talk with our elderly relatives about how to protect themselves.

In the home, keep important documents and other information locked and/or hidden in a safe place. Make sure all devices are password protected, always use strong passwords. If they live in a nursing home, ensure there are sufficient security measures in place to keep staff, family, and strangers from getting undocumented access to medical records and other sensitive info.

Online, teach seniors the basic ways to guard against phishing and email scams: don’t open attachments, don’t click on links, and never respond with any private information in an email. Always check for the “https” at the beginning of the URL when using websites that require entering login information or any other sensitive input. Use a VPN, especially in nursing homes, to ensure no one is intercepting web traffic on their wifi network.

Finally, perform regular checks of medical records, bank account activity, credit card activity, and credit reports for any unauthorized activity. If you see something, say something. You can monitor most of this information yourself, but for senior adults, signing them up for identity theft protection will allow professionals to do it on your behalf.

If an elderly friend or relative is a victim of identity theft, find out what steps to take next

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