Keys to Fighting Fraud for Seniors

Just turn on the news and you are likely to hear a story concerning victims of financial fraud.  Identity theft, phishing, and other financial crimes against seniors are on the rise, but there are some things that you can do to protect yourself.

Keep account and Social Security numbers private

Fraudsters with access to your account and Social Security numbers can cause significant damage so it’s absolutely essential that you keep that information private. If you receive phone calls or emails requesting your account numbers, passwords, or your Social Security number, there’s a chance that the email or call is fake and the originator is looking to obtain valid numbers for fraudulent purposes. Make sure that you know exactly whom you are giving your information to.

Deal only with known entities

Unfortunately, senior citizens are frequent targets of people looking to commit fraud. If someone calls you on the telephone, or rings your doorbell, do not supply that person with your private information, such as account numbers, account balances, passwords, or your Social Security number. Instead, if you are looking to open any new financial accounts, go into an office or call them yourself. That way, you can know who you are dealing with is legitimate. Ask friends and relatives for recommendations of companies that they have had good experiences with, and remember that the best companies don’t need to solicit business door to door or through telemarketing.

Shred confidential documents before disposal, and guard your passwords and pin numbers

Identity theft often occurs when your account information gets into the wrong hands. Shredding confidential documents before throwing them away, or anything with your account information or Social Security number on it, can help reduce your risk of identity fraud. If you carry an ATM card, make sure that you’ve memorized the PIN number and are not carrying the number around in your wallet.

Monitor your credit

All Americans are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. To order your free credit report, you can utilize the special Web site (AnnualCreditReport.com) or call 877.322.8228. This is the only official Web site, so make sure you do not use any other Web address. Take advantage of this opportunity to order your credit reports and review them for any suspicious activity. Reviewing your credit reports is the best way to determine if your identity has been stolen, as identity thieves generally start opening accounts right away.
  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.