Things Every Retiree Should Know About Identify Theft
Unfortunately, one thing every retiree has to worry about is identity theft. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were more than 2.6 million retirement-age victims of identity theft in 2014. The number today is surely higher as hackers are constantly updating their tactics to steal an individual's identity. Some are non-technological. They include dumpster diving, mail theft, pre-texting, and outright personal theft. Sophisticated technological approaches include various phishing tactics using malware, spam, and email.
So why would retirees be targeted so frequently? First and foremost, retirees tend to have a little money put aside, and statistics indicate that they have the highest credit scores. In addition to that, retirees may not have been exposed to or familiar with some of the tactics hackers use to secure personal information, and are, therefore, more likely to be tricked.
Identity theft can have horrible financial and emotional consequences, so it's important to be aware of these tactics and pay attention to your credit report and account summaries to watch for unusual activity.
But what happens if you see unusual activity on your bank accounts, credit cards, or credit report? If you notice discrepancies that can't be accounted for, time is of the essence. If you are the victim of an individual attack or your information has been compromised from a large-scale hacking, here are things you can do to mitigate the effects of identity theft:
Within the First 24-48 Hours
- Call your financial advisor so he or she can monitor your accounts and look for unusual activity. The wealth management advisors at Prestige Wealth Management Group have extensive knowledge of identity theft issues and can identify unusual occurrences as soon as possible. He or she can also provide tips on how to protect your identity even further in these crucial first hours.
- Consult the respective federal agencies and financial institutions for tips and information on what to do if you believe your identity was stolen. Call the Social Security Administration’s fraud hotline at 800-269-0271 if you believe your social security number was stolen. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), either at identitytheft.gov, by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT (TTY 1-866-653-4261), or by visiting www.ftc.gov. Finally, visit the IRS website https://www.irs.gov/uac/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft if you’re the victim of tax fraud. In addition to that, you'll want to contact any financial institutions you have an account with that you feel may have been compromised.
- Finally, if you believe that you were the victim of malware or some other form of phishing, it might be a good idea to install an anti-virus program to remove any spyware or other unwanted software on your computer.
Within the First Week and Beyond
Prestige Wealth Management Group recommends that you report the identity theft to your local police department as well as one of the three major credit bureaus - the other two will automatically be notified once the alert is placed on your account. It's important to file a formal police report and provide the credit bureau with the report number as this will keep the alert on file for seven years.
In addition to that, you might want to take preventative measures to ensure hackers don’t cause damage to your credit. First, you should freeze your credit report so hackers cannot open new unauthorized accounts. Another thing you should certainly do is change the passwords and PINs to all of your accounts. Also, this is the time to begin collecting statements and actively monitoring your accounts to build a case if identity theft does occur.
Moreover, after the first week, make sure to check your account statements as they come in as well as online accounts periodically. If you notice any unusual activity, be sure to report it immediately. It might be a good idea to get your credit report every six months to be on the safe side. Tell your friends and family that you were hacked, so they can be mindful of their own accounts. Finally, consult with your financial planner and develop an identity verification plan for future business transactions.
Need a Little More Help?
You can get a free yearly credit report through Credit Karma at: www.creditkarma.com
The 3 Credit Score agencies can also help you monitor your credit: