stealing your identity

Identity Thieves Preying on Elderly

Thieves need only take what won’t be noticed right away. They might not even take anything at all. A camera is all they need to capture any important info.

It used to be that thieves were after your money. Today’s miscreants are after something more. They’re knocking on the door or calling on the phone. They’re trying to get in your email and even going through your trash.

What are they looking for?

Your identity. Your birthday, your name, your social security number, anything associated with you. It’s a very unsettling thought. However, you don’t need to be afraid, just cautious. There are ways to prevent someone getting your info. If someone should get a hold of your info, there are still things that are in your power to do.

By Phone

One of the most effective ways thieves get a hold of personal information is by telephone. Sometimes they claim to be selling products or insurance but, often, they claim to be your insurance agent, your credit card company, or even your bank. They’ll claim that they need verification to address some issue. They may even be claiming to be addressing a case of identity theft.

Then, the impostor will ask you for verification via credit card number, birthday, social security number, or Medicare ID number. If they actually were your credit card company, they’d know the number already. Don’t give out sensitive information by phone unless you have definite proof of who you’re talking to. Even then, it’s best avoided.

If you’re suspicious you can have them give you the company number and tell them you’ll call back to clear up any issue. Make sure this number matches the one on your statements.

Trash Divers

For those with little attachment to dignity, and there are plenty, there’s the unrefined art of stealing a trash bag and sifting through the contents looking for statements, bills, or anything that might contain personal info. This has led to communities encouraging residents to shred anything containing personal details.

Pickpockets and Purse Snatchers

Often the act of pick-pocketing or purse snatching is brazen enough to be quickly noticed. One can make calls to credit card companies and police. But sometimes these thieves take advantage of a situation where a wallet has been left lay in a hotel room or a purse left unattended for a moment.

These thieves need only take what won’t be noticed right away. They might not even take anything at all. A camera on a cell phone is all they need to capture any important info you might be carrying. The common target though, is the driver’s license. When sold to someone who resembles the owner it can be used to secure other ID’s and documents such as passports. It can also be used in a card reader to verify age at a bar or for criminal background when applying for a firearm permit.

The Shoulder Surfer

This type of thief isn’t just loathsome because of his disregard for personal space. He or she is watching your card transactions more closely than he or she ought to. This thief is trying to get card numbers and the PIN numbers that go with them.

One of these unsavory types with any kind of image capturing device like a camera or cell phone is the worst. Many online and over-the-phone orders only require the info on a credit card and not the card itself. Always use a free hand to shield your card and you can always confront a shoulder surfer by politely asking them to allow you some space to privately conduct your business.

Stay Sharp

It is sad that these days so many dishonest people are trying to steal info that isn’t theirs. However, you can stay a step ahead of them by being aware of your surroundings and taking a few simple precautions that will keep your info safely away from others. Watch your statements. If anything suspicious would cause you to question whether some of your info has been compromised, contact the corresponding institutions immediately.

Remember, your local government, bank, and credit card lenders are all on your side in the fight against identity theft.

Photo: ビッグアップジャパン