Sadly, many identity criminals target elders. The Houston Family Examiner has a pretty article with tips that apply to everyone and not just elders. Some of the tips and suggestions:
"Many seniors have carried their social security card and number around for decades and it is a hard habit to break but seniors need to understand that today the practice simply isn’t smart or safe. Medicare card numbers put seniors at risk too. Instead seniors can leave their cards secured at home and instead carry a copy of their Medicare card with them, with the SSN blacked out. This will help you get the medical treatment you need in case of emergency and but still keep your information safe in case of a theft."
A really good tip since many Americans are very trusting (e.g., a character strength that some will try to exploit):
"Do not give out information over the phone, especially bank account or credit card information. If someone calls and claims to be from a bank or credit card company, hang up and call the institution back at a number you already have on a statement. Real institutions will not ask you for sensitive information over the phone and will already have the answers..."
"There are so many worthy charities out there and unfortunately so many charity scams that want to prey on the generosity of the elderly. CharityNavigator.org is a trustworthy site for researching charities before giving."
Of course, the standard preventative measures apply:
- Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Store it in a safe place like a safety-deposit box at your bank
- Use a postal mailbox with a lock
- Use a shredder before placing documents with sensitive personal data and address data) into the trash
- Shred pre-approved credit and loan offers. Even better, use OptoutPrescreen.com to stop receiving pre-approved offers via postal mail, if you don't need the credit
- Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry
- Use strong passwords at online web sites