Studies have consistently shown that the elderly are an especially high risk population when it comes to falling victim to scams, fraudsters, and identity thieves.  Elderly people are particularly at risk for identity theft, as well as other forms of financial abuse due to several factors.  First, older citizens tend to have more savings at their disposal and higher credit ratings, making them juicier targets than many other demographics.

Elderly people are also often less comfortable using digital information platforms like the internet.  This means they are less likely to check bank statements regularly.  It also means the elderly are often generally easier to fool in online scams that many of the rest of us are already aware of due to much higher computer and internet usage rates. Dependence on caregivers and advisors can also sometimes lead to an increased incidence of identity theft among elderly people.

So how do you protect your parents, or grandparents from being victimized by a clever online scammer or identity thief?  The answer is the same for the elderly as it is for every other demographic: education.  Concerned consumers should take the time to talk to their elderly family members to ensure they understand the risks of online interaction, and some of the common tactics scammers will likely use to try and trick them out of their hard earned cash.  For more information regarding scams and the elderly, don’t hesitate to visit the ITRC website at www.idtheftcenter.org.

Never send any banking or personally identifying information to anyone you don’t know.  There is no Nigerian prince who needs pop-pop to guard his royal life savings,  your nephew isn’t trapped in a Mexican Prison, and the Google Tech Team will never instant message gam-gam for her security credentials to confirm her service.  They should only shop online at sites they recognize and with vendors they trust.If there’s ever a doubt about an email or an online interaction, inform them to contact a family member or industry professional before they respond or take any action; it might save grandma’s life savings.

If an elderly member of your family does fall victim to a scammer or identity thief, contact the ITRC’s call center (Hours m-f, 8-4:30 PST) at 888-400-5530 and a trained victim advisor will be happy to assist you or your loved one in mitigating any damage resulting from the scam.

“Protecting the Elderly from Identity Theft” was written by Matt Davis.  Matt is Director of Business Alliances at the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.