CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - Jul 22, 2014) - Identity theft is America's fastest-growing crime, yet the majority of seniors in the U.S. aren't taking all possible steps to protect themselves and outsmart thieves, according to a recent TransUnion survey.
The national survey of men and women revealed that 78 percent of respondents are concerned or extremely concerned about identity theft yet 61 percent only check their credit score once a year or less. While these "retirement-ready adults" recognize the importance of identity theft prevention, they are not taking many proactive measures to prevent it. Just 13 percent of adults ages 61-90 use identity theft-prevention products and 17 percent subscribe to a credit-monitoring service.
In a time where data breaches have become a regular occurrence, it's important that consumers take proactive measures to safeguard their identity. One simple way to monitor credit is to subscribe to an identity theft protection product or monitoring service. In fact, 79 percent of respondents agree that these services would be somewhat effective (46 percent) or very effective (33 percent) in reducing their risk of identity theft.
All consumers, including seniors, should monitor and review their credit report annually. If they believe they have been a victim, they should consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on their credit report.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation explains that senior-aged individuals may make easier targets for identity thieves because:
- Senior citizens are most likely to have a "nest egg," to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit -- all of which make them attractive to con artists.
- People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say "no" or just hang up the telephone.
- Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don't know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don't know they have been scammed.
TransUnion provides the following tips to help seniors better minimize their exposure to identity theft:
- If your Medicare card has your Social Security number listed on it, make a photocopy of your Medicare card and use a permanent marker to black out the first five digits of your Social Security number on the photocopy of the card. Carry the photocopy of the card and keep your Medicare card in a secure place.
- Do not carry your checkbook. Only carry the number of checks you will need and keep your checkbook in a secure place.
- Keep all of your sensitive personal documents, including financial documents in a safe, secure, locked place.
- Shred personal and financial records with a crosscut shredder before throwing them away.
- Be mindful while using the internet. Install a virus-protection on your computer. Only visit trusted websites and do not respond to unsolicited requests for information.
- A senior's Power of Attorney or Court Appointed-Guardian is able to exercise rights on behalf of the senior in order to clean up damage cause by identity theft.
Services like TransUnion's Instant Alerts or Credit Lock, which allows members to lock and unlock their credit from their mobile device, helps people rest assured that they're protecting their identities by blocking access to their credit reports and receiving notifications for new applications for credit in their name.
For more information on how seniors can better protect themselves from identity theft or to begin safeguarding yourself from identity thieves, visit www.TransUnion.com
About the Survey
The survey was conducted online by TransUnion Interactive, LLC on June 17-18, 2014. The results include responses from 503 U.S. residents over the age of 60.
TransUnion Interactive, Inc. is a consumer subsidiary of TransUnion. As a global leader in credit and information management, TransUnion creates advantages for millions of people around the world by gathering, analyzing and delivering information. For businesses, TransUnion helps improve efficiency, manage risk, reduce costs and increase revenue by delivering comprehensive data and advanced analytics and decisioning. For consumers, TransUnion provides the tools, resources and education to help manage their credit health and achieve their financial goals. Through these and other efforts, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies worldwide. Founded in 1968 and headquartered in Chicago, TransUnion employs associates in more than 33 countries on five continents. www.transunion.com. Follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TransUnion.