It’s noteworthy the degree to which those in the 65-and-over set are using technology. iPods, iPads, smartphones, FaceTime, Facebook—there’s a host of tech tools to keep up and all are supposed to provide extra convenience.
But most of us also know that, in our information-savvy world of “convenience,” some things have become significantly more complex. Take identity theft, for example. Our information resides on databases of varying size, from the mom and pop retailer in our neighborhood and our local utility company, all the way up to the savings institutions where we deposit and manage our money.
Identity theft is on the rise, and seniors are prime targets because of their good credit ratings, solvent savings accounts, and good natures. Some of these situations include telephone scams, Internet schemes and charity fraud. Seniors are especially at risk because the tech tools available to thieves help them get seniors where they are vulnerable—in the privacy of their own home through the telephone, Internet and even the front door.
Here are nine suggestions to keep your information safe:
- Memorize your Social Security number. Never carry your card with you.
- Invest in a cross-cut shredder (under $50 at Walmart) to ensure that information on discarded printed paper is destroyed and not usable by crooks.
- Memorize your PINs (personal identification numbers) and try to avoid writing them down. If you must document them, never keep the PINs with their cards or account numbers.
- Never give out personal information over the phone or Internet unless you are sure it is to a trusted source.
- Deposit checks into your account right away and never put your account number on the back of a check that you’ve endorsed.
- Do not put your driver’s license or Social Security number on checks.
- Invest in a peephole for your front door. If you are a renter, see if your landlord will cover the cost for you as a safety precaution.
- Check all financial accounts at least weekly and dispute anything that looks suspicious in a timely manner.
- Choose an identity theft protection plan that watches your credit rating and credit activity to keep you ahead of potential theft and negative reports.
Feeling insecure in keeping your data safe? Well, you are not alone. Crime statistics are sobering and continue to increase each year. But you can do something about it. In fact, it’s much easier to protect yourself in a proactive way than to spend years trying to reestablish your finances and good reputation after a breach.
As you are taking steps to protect yourself, I highly recommend a service called Identity Guard. Identity Guard offers complete protection and recovery services. I believe this company outperforms other popular ID-safe brands. See how Identity Guard compares to other ID protection strategies, then try it for one month free through MediGap Advisors: http://www.MediGapAdvisors.com/identity-guard.htm
Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit www.MediGapAdvisors.com.