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Identity Theft

The 2017 Identity Fraud Study identified $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 Million U.S. consumers. The number of victims of identity theft grows each year. This is not meant to scare you, but prepare you. There are good habits you can adopt to reduce your risk.

Identity theft among senior citizens particularly, increases year after year because the culprits find this demographic to be especially vulnerable. The trusting nature of seniors, along with their preference for paper statements over e-statements, makes them a more likely target.

There are numerous things you can do to prevent identity theft:

  1. Shred all sensitive mail, including financial documents, personal information and account information. Destroy any credit card solicitations as well.
  2. Try to never give out your Social Security number. If someone asks you for it, find out if it’s mandatory information. If it is, ask who has access to it and how the data will be kept safe.
  3. Be credit card careful. Watch salespeople and wait staff in restaurants when they take away your card to another area to run the card through the system. When you make a gasoline purchase, studies show it’s better to pay inside whenever possible. Pay-at-the-pump machines may have illegal skimmers attached, making your credit card information available to identity thieves.
  4. Cancel and cut up any rarely used or unused credit cards.
  5. Protect your driver’s license. Don’t let anyone copy your aging parent’s driver’s license. This is an open invite to instantly access the address and makes it easy to get bank account numbers and other personal data.
  6. Get a locked mail box or post office box for extra safety.
  7. Have checks overnighted so they can be tracked. Have the checks delivered directly to the bank or post office box.

Restoring your identity on your own can be time-consuming and stressful. Many times, people give up in frustration and later find out the credit damage and fraudulent bills follow them for many years to come. Use the credit monitoring that is free in online banking with Caro to help watch for fluctuations.


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