Authored By: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
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It can happen to anyone at anytime-
Why do Seniors make good targets?
- Thieves perceive Seniors as having a reserve of money;
- Seniors tend to be home more during the day;
- More vulnerable because Seniors spend more time alone with caretakers; and,
- Seniors are trusting and thieves use courtesy and politeness to coax private information out of their victims.
WARNING SIGNS ?
YOUR IDENTITY MAY HAVE BEEN STOLEN
- You have not received your normal monthly mail and bills;
- You are denied credit for no apparent reason;
- You receive calls and letters from collection agencies and you don't have overdue bills;
- Your checks bounce without a reason;
- You receive charges and statements for goods or services you know you have not purchased.
Anytime a wallet, cell phone, credit or identity card, or other identifying document turns up missing, you should take steps to guard against identity theft.
COMMON WAYS THIEVESSTEAL YOUR IDENTITY
Dumpster divers- Rummage through trash to try and find personal information carelessly thrown away.
Phishers- Pose as representatives of a legitimate company by email or phone, saying they need information (SSN, bank account numbers) to try to solve a problem or take a survey.
Skimmers- Capture credit and debit card numbers by devices attached to ATM machines or by having an accomplice takeAsecond swipes@of your card after a legitimate purpose.
Reloaders- Target someone who has already been the victim of a swindle or identity theft by posing as an investigator or company representative. They request information in order to "help" you try and recover your money. Many con men and professional crooks circulate lists of their victims.
Bad Samaritans- Pose as helpers, volunteer to run errands in order to gain access to your homes, possessions, and information. They gain your trust, then use your banking, credit or identity information to make purchases, drain your accounts, or obtain credit cards in your name.
WHEN your identity has been stolen
- File a complaint with the FTC online athttp://www.consumer.gov/idtheft
- File a complaint with the FTC by telephone at 877-IDTHEFT, TDD: 202-326-2502.
- Contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline at 800-269-0271
- See more resources about Identity Theft & Financial Fraud onhttp://www.oklaw.org
WHAT THIEVES CAN DOWITH YOUR IDENTITY
¨Obtain phony identification in your name to help them scam others
¨ Take out loans or credit cards in your name, while the bills come to you;
¨Open bank accounts in your name and write hot checks;
¨Make internet or phone purchases using your credit card numbers;
¨Drain your bank accounts with stolen debit cards or fake checks;
¨Order phone or wireless service;
¨Purchase or mortgage cars or homes;
¨Take a vacation at your expense;
¨Divert your mail; or,
¨If arrested, may identify themselves as you; when they don=t show up for court the bench warrant will be issued for you.
WHAT TO DO?IF IT HAPPENS TO YOU
- Report thefts and break-ins immediately;
- Close all accountsimmediately;
- Report stolen drivers licenses, credit cards and government id=s to those issuing them; ask issuer to flag your account for unauthorized use; follow issuers procedures to obtain new cards;
- Report theft of identity or financial information to each of the three major credit reporting agencies, and ask them to place a fraud alert on your account.
PREVENTING IDENTITY THEFT
¨ Tear or shred charge receipts, copies of credit applications, medical forms, checks and bank statements, expired credit or charge cardsbefore putting in trash;
¨ Use a secure mail box: replacing your mailbox with one that locks or obtain a post office box; deposit outgoing mail in a secure collection box, place a "hold" mail at the post office when away, and never allow mail or newspapers to accumulate.
¨ Don=t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse;
¨ Check your credit reports each June-it's free;
¨ Never give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the internet unlessYOUhave initiated the contact;
¨ Don=t use easy to guess passwords such as your mother=s maiden name or your birthday;
¨ Don=t put your SSN on checks, boats or trailers;
¨ Do not give any personal information to a stranger. Hang up, walk away or sign off.
¨ When you must have repairmen, or guests you don't know in your home, be very careful with your personal information.
¨ On the computer, deal only with secure sites. Update virus protections. Make sure all information is cleared before you dispose of a computer.
¨ Even solid businesses have leaks. If you=re legitimately required to give your Social Security or other confidential information, ask why and find out if there are any alternatives.