More than 50% of seniors are online, according to Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project in 2012, and this means seniors are utilizing email, social media and online banking. As we age, there is an increased feeling of isolation for various reasons including a loss of social connections, new physical limitations or even a lack of transportation. Being online is a wonderful way for seniors to connect with family and friends, keep their cognitive skills sharp and perform errands such as banking or shopping. However, with all of these wonderful things there needs to be awareness of existing dangers.
Protecting yourself from identity theft
With that rise in use of the Internet also comes an increased threat of identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 19% of identity theft are to people age 60 or older. This is more than 52,000 complaints in a single year from older people.
Although there is no way to protect against everything, such as the Target hack, there are things we can do to try to prevent an identity theft from occurring. Make sure you take these measures or educate your loved one to keep them financially safe.
Identity Theft Tips
- Never give any bank account information to anyone in an email, over the phone, etc.
- Change your password regularly.
- Don’t carry your Medicaid card in your wallet. As a matter of fact, don’t carry any more personal documents than you have to.
- Never enter your password if you’ve arrived at a site by following a link in an email or chat that you don’t trust.
- Shred any documents that have account numbers, PINs, social security number or other personal information.
- Install software on your computer to protect your information, including antivirus, anti-spyware and a firewall.
- Check your credit regularly.
What to do if you’re a victim
There are steps you can take if you have been or ever become a victim of identity theft. This is a short public service video from the FTC about the steps you need to take if it happens to you or someone you know.
Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, http://www.pewinternet.org
Federal Trade Commission, http://ftc.gov
Google Public Policy, http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2013/05/protecting-seniors-from-identity-theft.html