Senior citizens and ID theft
Senior citizens represent roughly 20% of all identity theft victims, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Senior citizens control more wealth than members of any other age group; more of then have homes that are paid off, and their other investments have been accumulating longer. Without children to provide for, they’re able to preserve more of their assets.
But knowing the things that make them attractive targets is only half of the story. What makes senior citizens vulnerable to identity theft?
Medicare cards: Each subscriber’s Social Security number is printed on the card as an account number. Seniors have to show their cards to get prescriptions or medical care. Lost cards or stolen cards provide the most important information for an identity thief.
Limited technological interaction: This group is less likely than others to check account statements or balances online or at ATMs. If someone else gains access to their accounts, there is more damage done because of a delay in the crime’s detection.
Respect for authority: Especially elderly senior citizens have a deeply ingrained respect for authority that makes them more likely to fall for a phone caller who asks for confirmation of Social Security number or account number.
Disability: Nursing home residents are especially vulnerable as evidenced by the Federal Grand Jury indictment of 17 people in the Kansas City area who used nursing home residents’ information to file fraudulent tax returns in 27 states.
Loyalty, fear or shame: Even when the identity theft is discovered senior citizens might be unwilling to prosecute family members out of fear, loyalty or shame.