U.S. Markets closed

Don't Let Nana Fall Victim to Senior Scams

Raul Vargas

It’s always good to honor Nana and Pop-Pop for all they’ve done to make our lives better, like many Americans did this weekend for Grandparents Day. But it’s also good for us to lend them a hand, too.

Statistics show that seniors are targeted more than other age groups for identity theft scams. As a result, they lose billions of dollars every year to scammers, AARP reports.

Types of Scams Targeted at Seniors

One reason seniors are targeted more is because many prefer to use checkbooks instead of debit or credit cards to make purchases, The Florida Times-Union recently reported. Checks, however, contain sensitive personal information such as a person’s name and address. They also include customer banking data: their account number, address and even the routing number – everything someone needs to set up in order to transfer funds electronically, the source said.

Receiving checks can also be deceiving. Scammers may send senior citizens checks that look like a rebate or reward, but the fine print on the check tells the true story: by depositing this check, a person will be automatically enrolled in some kind of program that takes money out of their account on a monthly basis, the Times-Union reported. The same type of information (routing number, account number) can be obtained when someone writes their account number on the back of a check they’re depositing.

Seniors are also targeted by phone scams. This is when someone poses to be someone they are not to obtain personal information from a senior. Avoid giving information out over the phone when someone calls you asking for bank account data, the source said.

Talking to Your Parent About Identity Theft Risks

Explaining reasons why your elderly parent has to hang up the phone when someone calls asking for account info or immediately throw away a scam letter is important, AARP reported. Explain to them that the government doesn’t make unsolicited phone calls asking for personal information, for example, because they already should have this information on file, the source said.

Another tip AARP gave to ensure seniors protect against identity theft was not to “shame or blame” your parents for being unaware of potential data security risks. Remind them to never trust strangers, especially those asking for personal information and money.

Finally, it’s important for seniors to regularly check their credit — both credit reports and credit scores — to help detect identity theft.  Your credit reports, which you can obtain for free once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, will list the credit accounts in your name.  Keep an eye out for accounts and debts that are unfamiliar to you. Checking your credit score regularly — which you can do for free using a tool like Credit.com’s Credit Report Card — can also alert you to potential identity theft if your score unexpectedly drops.

More from Credit.com