Older adults are victims of crimes at lower rates than younger people. While that seems like good news, the reality is anything but good. Seniors are less likely to recover from the physical, financial, or emotional toll that being the victim of a crime can cause. One type of crime that is especially troubling, and increasingly targets seniors, is identity theft.
Protecting an aging parent or other senior loved one from identity theft starts with learning more about it and taking steps to avoid it. In honor of National Crime Prevention Month, we are sharing some of the most common types of identity theft targeting seniors.
Identity Theft Targeting Senior Citizens
1. The grandparent scam
This type of identity theft has been around for a while now, but seniors continue to fall for it. An older adult receives a call from someone with a young sounding voice. The caller claims they are a grandchild in distress and they need money immediately. Many of these scammers even know the grandchild’s name. They beg the grandparent to wire them money or give them a credit card or debit card number over the phone. While the scam seems far-fetched, it often works.
Explain this scam to the older members of your family. Encourage them to hang up if they receive one of these calls. Then try to call their adult child or the grandchild back on their direct line.
2. Stealing from the mailbox or trash can
Another way criminals gain access to a senior’s personal information is by stealing from their mailbox or trash can. Criminals target older adults because seniors are more likely to have good credit and personal assets.
Remind your family member not to let mail pile up in the box. Also, encourage them to shred any items with personal information on it before throwing it in the trash. This includes credit card statements, medical bills, Medicare paperwork, bank statements, and more. Consider helping them set up accounts to access this information online and eliminate any potential paper trail.
3. The IRS agent scam
Another scam that continues to make the rounds is the IRS agent scam. A scammer calls the senior or sends them a threatening email. They inform the older adult they owe the IRS money that must be paid by credit card immediately or they will be arrested. Some even claim that officers are waiting nearby to make the arrest.
Be sure your aging parents and the seniors in your life know the IRS will never call anyone in an attempt to collect money for a debt. Instead, they send out written letters explaining the debt along with information on how the person can file an appeal.
Senior Independent Living
If you are concerned about an aging parent’s well-being and how you can protect them from crimes against seniors, a move to a senior living community might be a solution. One of our experienced senior care advisors can work with you to explore local options that best meet your needs and budget. Call us at 888-514-6461 to get started. As always, our guidance is free for older adults and their families!
Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash