Identity theft is an ever-growing issue in America, and it seems to be getting ever worse for retirees. When you consider that the older you are, the more assets you likely will have, it begins to make sense as to why retirees may be a target for so many scams. Not to worry, there are identity theft preventative measures you can take to help reduce the chances of identity theft. This is an important part of what we call A Safer Retirement.
Leave Your Social Security Card At Home
It is easy to shut off credit cards and get a new license, but if someone was able to get a hold of your Social Security number, it becomes a huge hassle in having to work through all the road blocks in getting that changed. Memorize your Social Security and leave the card at home in a safe and hidden place.
Don’t Share Personal Information
Birthdays, Social Security Number, or account numbers should be kept private, even when someone asks. In our financial practice, we don’t need anything more than a birthday month to be able to run our preliminary analysis and reports. Even Social Security optimization reports can be run with a birthday month. Eventually, we (like any other financial practice) would need the info to open accounts, if requested… but that doesn’t happen until trust is established. No need to rush into things. It should be considered good practice to not give this information out until you have mutual trust and respect with the individual to which you would need to share this kind of information.
Collect Mail Daily
If you don’t have a lock and key on your mailbox, make sure to pick up your mail daily. This can help with two preventative measures. The first, don’t leave possible bank statements or other sensitive mail sitting in your inbox while you are gone. It doesn’t take much effort for a stranger to just pick it up. The second helps hide the fact that you may be gone on vacation.
Lock Your Cell Phone
It may feel like a hassle but if someone were to get access to your phone, they could find a lot of sensitive data and have easy access to some of your accounts.
Review Account Statements
There is a significant amount of fraud that occurs by very small transactions. Check your monthly statements and verify what was spent and when. Some people will use apps like Mint and track all pending transactions on all accounts daily. Others will have their bank text them every time a transaction is being processed. Awareness of transactions helps stop an fraud before it gets out of control.
Review Your Credit Reports Once A Year
Make sure no one has opened accounts in your name without you knowing. They can open them, sit on them, and eventually use and abuse them. You can order it for free from Annualcreditreport.com
Freeze Your Credit Files
Freeze your credit files with Experian, Innovis, TransUnion, Equifax, and the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange for free. Sure, if you want to apply for an auto loan or a new mortgage, you would have to unfreeze them, but most retirees don’t need to worry about this. Freeze your accounts prevents someone from trying to apply and open accounts in your name.
When it comes to your identity, being proactive in protecting it is key. Once your info goes on the dark web, it can be extremely difficult to recover. Retirees face many struggles, but with the right help and a proactive approach, you should be able to protect yourself from all the storms that may come so you can focus on what matters most while you enjoy A Safer Retirement.
Decker Retirement Planning Inc. is a registered investment advisor in the state of Washington. Our investment advisors may not transact business in states unless appropriately registered or excluded or exempted from such registration. We are registered as an investment advisor in WA, ID, UT, CA, NV and TX. We can provide investment advisory services in these states and other states where we are exempted from registration.