Protecting Your Parents from Identity Theft
According to statistics, those who are 50-years old and older, like 65-85, are often targets of identity thieves. The bad guys have no issue taking advantage of your parents. They violate their trust, and understand that they are often naïve about the internet and scammy phone callls. Cyber criminals also know that older people have retirement money and more savings, and this money is ready for them to take. Here are some of the common scams that the bad guys use:
Common Scams Against Older People
- The bad guys might send them an email saying that they are from the IRS, CIA, FBI, or even a bank. The email says that there is a problem that needs the recipient’s attention. The scammers then ask for information like their Social Security numbers, bank account information, and more.
- Another scam is to pull on their heart strings. In this case, the scammer calls the person and claims to be someone they know, like a grandchild, who needs money wired because it’s an emergency.
- Scammers also try to take advantage of people by using their home’s information. If they can access the deed of a person’s home, they can use other information, like their bank account number and Social Security number and can refinance the home. Then, of course, they get all of that money and the person living there is none the wiser.
- Crooks also focus on people in retirement homes. They get a job at these homes, and then manipulate the residents to give them personal information.
- They seek out the lonely. If your parent is single because of divorce or death they are a target. Loneliness often trumps common sense. There’s a level of desperation that predators seek out.
Preventing Scams Against Your Parents
You probably want to do all that you can to prevent this from happening. Here are some methods you can use:
- Become the main guardian over the personal information and financial accounts of your parent’s. This way, when your parent is contacted by a suspicious person, they must go through you to get any information. Even information like your mother’s maiden name might be used to commit identity theft down the road. Make sure your parents know that they shouldn’t ever share personal information and any and all requests for any money must go through you. No matter how persistent the person on the phone or via email is.
- Don’t ever share personal or identifying info on a social media site. Criminals will target your parents in “Grandparents Scams” posing as their grand children in distress using social profiles as research.
- Make sure your parents know to check their credit card and bank accounts quite often. You should also set up text or email alerts about their accounts.
- Get your parents a shredder. All bank statements and any other sensitive information should be put through the shredder. Crooks love to go through trash to find old statements and other information that they can use.
- If your parents use Wi-Fi, show them how to use a VPN. Hotspots are not protected and scammers use them often.
- When writing an obituary, don’t use any details that a crook could use to steal an identify. Sadly, the bad guys use this information in terrible ways.
- Explain the importance of email safety. Phishing is very common, and even if an email looks safe and legitimate, no one, including you or your parents, should click a link in an email.
- Help your parents understand that there is a difference between http and https. Tell them that if a website has http, it is not secure, so they shouldn’t share personal information.
- You can also help your parents opt out of any unnecessary offers. Go to the website com and sign up.
- Work with your parents to freeze their credit.
Stay Aware of Scammers
Do not allow your parents to be a scammer’s next victims. You can easily prevent this, and most importantly, your parents won’t have to go through the stress of rebuilding their credit and recovering their identity. One of the most important things that you can do is to be aware of these scams.
Protect the Identity of Your Parents
All of us are vulnerable to identity theft, and we can’t protect ourselves 100% of the time. However, by doing things like signing up for identity theft protection or doing a credit freeze can help to keep us all safe.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.