Identity Theft Against Seniors
· Fraud and Scams
· Common Scams
· How Identity Theft Occurs
· If You Are a Victim
· Background Check
· Check Your Credit
· Identity Theft Report
· Credit Counseling Scams
· Craigslist Scams
Identity theft and scams against seniors are much more common than against younger Americans.
According to a recent survey by the Investor Protection Trust one out of every 5 Americans over the age of 65 has been the victim of a financial scam. If it sounds to good to be true it probably is. Do your research.
Everybody knows that protecting their credit from identify theft has become an important part of life. According to a recent study by the Federal Reserve, almost 80 percent of seniors have credit scores of 701 or better, and another 10 percent have scores of 660 to 700. These high scores should qualify most seniors for the lowest interest rates. If you can qualify for a lower interest rate that you are currently getting, by all means do so. Of course, credit thieves target seniors as they know their credit is usually excellent.
You must also protect yourself against people stealing your identity and against fraud.
Stealing the identity of a dead person or "ghosting"
This a form of identity theft in which someone steals the identity of a dead person. Usually, the person who steals this identity is roughly the same age as the deceased would have been if still alive, so that any documents citing the birth date of the deceased will not be conspicuously incorrect. The purpose of ghosting is to enable the identity thief to claim for her/his own use an existing identity and if possible to steal assets or charge against the deceased person's credit including stetting up new channels of credit in the diseased person's name. Sometimes an identity thief can even obtain a passport or Social Security benefits in the name of a dead person.
Never give personal information to someone you don’t know and trust.
This is especially true of your Social Security number, date of birth, bank account number, credit card numbers, and home address.
Do not keep your Social Security number in your purse or wallet and carry as little identifying information as possible.
Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED".
One of the most common scams is for a bogus credit card company to ask you to pay upfront to get approved for their credit card. Legitimate credit card companies don’t require upfront payment. Also remember that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is. You can verify the legitimacy of offers you receive with your local Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org/.
What you should not carry in your purse or wallet
1. No identification that includes your Social Security number, any PIN numbers or passwords
2. No blank checks
3. No spare keys for your house or car
4. Medicare card (carry a photocopy with the last 4 digits cut out)
Make a photo copy of both sides of everything in your wallet including credit cards and identification cards (driver's license, insurance cards, etc..) If traveling overseas make a copy of your passport.
If your wallet or purse is stolen immediately call all your credit card companies to request an account number change. Tell them you want a new number issued. That way nothing will show up on your credit report noted as cancelled by consumer which would be hurtful to your credit. Keep the toll free numbers of each credit card handy for such a call.
Change all your passwords to make sure your accounts can't be opened by the thief. The best passwords are a combination of numbers and letters--not your birth date, mother's maiden name or pet's name which can easily be found online.
File a police report and get copies as you will need them for insurance purposes and possibly in dealings with credit card companies.
Request a fraud alert be placed on your credit accounts that the 3 main credit bureaus maintain. Experian 888-397-3742 www.experian.com, Equifax 800-525-6285 www.equifax.com and TransUnion 800-680-7289 www.transunion.com. If you contact any of these three they will contact the other two.
Call the Social Security Administration (fraud line) and place an alert 800-269-0271
Ask your local Department of Motor Vehicles to put a flag on your driver's license so the thief will have difficulty applying for a new copy of your license to use for identification purposes.
Notify your bank you want a new ATM card and tell them if you checkbook was stolen. Wait a couple of weeks and check your credit by going to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228 and check again after a couple of months.
Additional tips to help prevent identity theft.
1. Place a credit freeze on your account with the 3 credit bureaus if you are not planning to open new charge accounts.
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com
2. Get a mail box that locks.
3. Do not leave personal information in your car.
4. Make sure your smart phone, laptop, iPad, etc. have pass codes to prevent unauthorized use.
5. Close any old, unused credit card accounts you do not use
6. Set up online access to your banking accounts so you can easily check unlawful use and stop mailed statements.
7. Do not throw away documents that contain personal information like credit card statements and medical bills. Shred them first.
If you are interested in purchasing sleeves to protect your credit cards, passport, driver’s license or badge holders for a proximity access card email John at email@example.com. (Leather men’s and women’s RFID protective wallets are also available individually and in quantity.)
Visa / MasterCard Scam
Note, the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it so many are convinced this is a legitimate call..
The scam works like this:
Person calling says - 'This is (name) and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460, your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona ?' When you say 'No', the caller continues with, 'Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching, and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address). Is that correct?' You say 'yes'.
The caller continues - 'I will be starting a Fraud Investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800-VISA) and ask for Security. You will need to refer to this Control Number. The caller then gives you a 6 digit number. 'Do you need me to read it again?'
Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works - The caller then says, 'I need to verify you are in possession of your card'. He'll ask you to 'turn your card over and look for some numbers'. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the last 3 are the Security Numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the last 3 numbers to him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, 'That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?'
After you say no, the caller then thanks you and states, 'Don't hesitate to call back if you do', and hangs up. You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. We were glad we did! The REAL VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was charged to our card. We made a real fraud report and closed the VISA account. VISA is reissuing us a new number. What the Scammer wants is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card. Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or Master Card directly for verification of their conversation.
The real VISA told us that they will never ask for anything on the card, as they already know the information, since they issued the card! If you give the Scammer your 3 Digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit. However, by the time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to actually file a fraud report.
Identity Theft and Scams Target Boomers and Seniors
Verify your bank account
This is the most common email scam today. It is designed to lure you into divulging your password information. These email and Web pages closely resemble legitimate credit authorities like Citibank, Bank of America, eBay, or PayPal. They entice you into visiting a phony web page and entering your ID and password. Often the guise is an urgent need to "confirm your identity" or tell you your account has been compromised or hacked and you must change your password.
Tip: the beginning of legitimate link address should have https://. These fakes will just have http:// (no “s”). If you question the legitimacy of the email call your financial institution to verify if the email is genuine.
The Nigerian scam
You receive an email from a supposed member of a wealthy Nigerian family interested in getting money out of Nigeria. The scam involves paying you a great deal of money for your help.
Advanced fees paid for a guaranteed loan or credit card
You receive information concerning a “pre-approved” loan or a credit card that charges an up-front fee.
Overpayment scam for item you are selling
This scam involves an item you might have listed for sale such as a car, or some other expensive item. The scammer finds your ad and sends you an email offering to pay much more than your asking price. The reason for overpayment is supposedly related to the international fees to ship the car or item overseas. In return, you are to send the car and the cash for the difference between what you listed your item for and what the scammer has agreed to pay you.
The scamper pays by money order and the money order you receive looks real so you deposit it into your account. In a couple of days (or the time it takes to clear) your bank informs you the money order was fake. In the mean time you have sent the item you were selling as well as the difference you were to pay over your asking price.
You receive an email from saying that you won a huge amount of money.
The catch is that prior to collecting your “winnings”, you must pay the “processing” fee of several thousands of dollars.
Employment search scam
After posting a resume on an employment site you receive a job offer to become a "financial representative" of an overseas company. They state the reason they want to hire you is that this company has problems accepting money from US customers and they need you to handle those payments. You will be paid 5 to 15 percent commission per transaction.
In your application process, which they demand you do to get the job, you provide the scammer with your personal data, such as bank account information, so you can “get paid” and other personal information. As a result you are subject to identity theft as well as open to have money stolen from any account you list..
Disaster relief scam
You receive a request for donation via email to donate to a major disaster relieve fund or to volunteer.
Sometimes the name of the charity or organization sounds like a legitimate organization, but the Website they link you to is bogus. Always contact the recognized charitable organization directly by phone or their Website and donate or volunteer this way
You receive an email with the offer to get a low fares to some exotic destination but you must book on line through the provided Website immediately as the offer expires that evening. If you call, to check this out you are likely to find out the travel is at a lower price but the hotel rates are jacked up to cover the travel savings.