Typical identity theft scams targeting the elderly Identity thieves target seniors over the telephone, looking to gain their trust to gain personal and financial data that can be used to commit fraud.
Seniors are vulnerable to identity theft scams because often they are more trusting, have more savings and home equity built up, and are less likely to closely monitor their credit and financial accounts.
How to Protect Seniors
Most Affected Groups Consumers between the ages of 40 and 69 are reporting identity theft at higher rates, suggesting a growing awareness of this crime—and vulnerability.
In 2020, the most targeted age group for identity theft were 30 to 39 year olds, among whom 306,090 cases were reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States. The second most targeted age group were those aged 40 to 49, with 302,678 cases of identity theft reported.
You can report senior citizen scams to Adult Protective Services as well as your local police. Should you receive a call from someone posing as an IRS agent, or agent from another government agency, report it to that agency as well.
How to Prevent Senior Identity Theft
10 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Older Adults
A higher level of education as well as higher income both put you more at risk for identity theft. A study by AARP shows those who have a college degree or post-graduate education are up to 10 percent more likely to be an identity theft victim than those with only some or no college education.
Any of these pieces of information are fair game for identity thieves, though some are more valuable than others: SSN, date of birth, credit card numbers, driver’s license number, Social Security card, passwords and usernames, rewards account numbers, and more.
Are identity thieves ever caught? Identity theft statistics for 2020 are not available yet; however, 2006 research showed that federal authorities arrest only 0.14% of the criminals (one person in 700 identity theft suspects). In contrast, nearly 45% of violent crime and 16% of property crime suspects were arrested.
While the individual perpetrator of identity theft could be held liable, others may have liability as well. Often, these other liable parties are those that have access to sensitive personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank or credit card information.
Who are the victims of Identity Theft? Victims of identity theft include people of all ages, societal, educational, and economic backgrounds.
A dishonest person who has your Social Security number can use it to get other personal information about you. Identity thieves can use your number and your good credit to apply for more credit in your name. Then, when they use the credit cards and don’t pay the bills, it damages your credit.