Your Safety

Senior Protection From Phone and Online Fraud

Senior Protection from phone and online fraud

 Throughout the pandemic, online shopping has become increasingly popular. We shop online for convenience and safety from COVID-19.  But what some people don't realize is that the internet may not be as safe as we think.  There is a shocking amount of information about you on the web, making it easier for your personal information to be compromised.

 

Furthermore, your personal information is at risk even over the phone, especially for seniors. The vulnerability of this highly sensitive data is why protecting your identity is essential.

 

Read along to learn more about personally identifiable information (PPI), how to protect yourself, and three of the best identity theft protection companies for seniors.  

 

What Is PII?

Personally identifiable information (PII) is any data that can be used to identify a particular individual, such as:

 

  • Social security number
  • Date of birth
  • Credit or debit card information
  • Bank account information
  • Mailing or email address
  • Biometrics information – data that is obtained by measuring a person's physical features to verify their identity. For example, the iPhone's fingerprint and facial recognition technology.

 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European data privacy law that requires organizations to keep sensitive information safe, including companies outside of the European Union. While this new law grants people more rights regarding how businesses handle their PII, it is still important to personally take charge of your identity protection.

 

Fraudulent Telemarketing

It is essential that seniors first know how to recognize and protect themselves from phone scams to further understand online fraudulence. Three of the most common telemarketing schemes include:

 

  • Government Impersonation Scams – Where fraudsters pose as government officials and demand senior victims to provide funds or be faced with prosecution.
  • Charity Scams – When criminals solicit money for fake charities, especially during or after a crisis.
  • Fake-relative Ploy – This is when scammers pose as a relative – usually a grandchild or grand-niece/nephew – and fabricates a dramatic story in which they are desperate for money.

 

Tips for Seniors to Avoid Phone Scams

Legitimate bill collectors will never threaten to arrest you for unpaid debt. So don't worry, no one is coming for you.  Here are some other things to remember to protect yourself from phone scams:

 

  • Never give any PPI over the phone (including data discussed above).
  • Talk to your phone company about how to reduce spam calls. Most carriers offer security apps to stop unwanted calls.
  • Do some research online with any contact information you have on hand, such as a phone number, name, email, etc. Many times other people have posted information about similar scamming situations.

 

Identity Theft Protection For Seniors

According to the AARP, over one in four adults over the age of 55 have experienced identity theft.

 

Typically, once you share your information with anyone (retailers, medical facilities, employers, etc.), it is readily available for fraudsters to steal. So how can you protect yourself against identity theft? There are many identity theft protection companies to help you keep your identity safe. Before we get into those, here are three primary protection services these companies offer:

 

  • Credit & Identity Monitoring – Identity theft protection firms monitor your credit files and notify you when there is activity, such as new accounts opened in your name and credit inquires. Identity theft protection services can also detect concerns such as:
  • Change of address request
  • Court records that show falsely related crimes in your name
  • Unauthorized payday loan applications using your personal information
  • Attempts to dominate your credit cards and/or bank information
  • Your PII on the dark web
  • Identity Recovery – After identity theft occurs, protection services may dispute fraudulent accounts to the credit bureaus and contact creditors directly on your behalf.
  • Identity Theft Insurance – Protection services may cover the cost of repairing your identity if you become a victim of fraud, some policies offering up to $1 million in damage.

 

Now that you are more familiar with the three leading services most protection firms have to offer, here are three of the best identity theft protection companies for seniors.

 

Identity Guard

Known for its award-winning and customer satisfaction ratings, Identity Guard provides identity theft protection using IBM's Watson computer system to scan the dark web. This artificial intelligence monitors millions of articles and social media posts daily to detect threats. There are three tiers designed for individual consumers and three levels for family plans. Upper-tier family plans include monitoring for potential cyberbullying for kids. Identity Guard also offers safe browsing tools to protect your sensitive data while shopping, banking, or paying bills online.

 

Experian IdentityWorks

One of the top three reporting credit bureaus, Experian now offers comprehensive identity theft protection for individuals of all ages. Experian IdentityWorks has two levels of identity theft protection that include family plans. Members are also able to lock and unlock their Experian reports to prevent fraud.

 

LifeLock

The million-dollar protection package offers three different plans that provide a comprehensive suite of security tools. Partnered with Norton 360, LifeLock provides computer and device protection that provides propriety alerts, 24/7 customer support, and a two-month money-back guarantee on annual plans.

 

Take Control of Your Identity

Most older adults have good credit, assets (houses, cars, etc.), and a robust savings account. It is no wonder why this population is at significant risk for identity theft. If you or your senior loved one suspect's identity theft and are not secured by an identity theft protection firm, please call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877- 438- 4338 or visit online at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft.

 

You may tend to get overwhelmed when shopping for a protection plan. Take your time figuring out what is best for you, and keep an eye out for the best deals to save money. Also, make sure that the company that you choose offers all three services listed above. Take control of your identity and sleep better at night knowing you are protected.

 

 

 

 

 

References

https://www.identityforce.com/blog/identity-theft-odds-identity-theft-statistics

 

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2020/identity-fraud-survey.html

 

https://www.seniorliving.org/identity-theft-protection/best/

 

https://www.csoonline.com/article/3215864/how-to-protect-personally-identifiable-information-pii-under-gdpr.html?page=2

 

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/comparing-identity-theft-protection-services

 

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/credit-cards/do-you-need-identity-theft-protection/