Identity theft is a growing concern for people of all ages, but the elderly are particularly vulnerable. According to the Department of Justice, 2.6 million people over the age of 65 were victims of identity theft in 2014. This is a staggering number, and it highlights the need for legal remedies and protections for the elderly.
Why are the Elderly Vulnerable to Identity Theft?
There are several reasons why the elderly are at higher risk for identity theft:
- They are more likely to have savings and assets
- They are less likely to use technology and may be unaware of online scams
- They may be more trusting and easily manipulated by scammers
- They may have cognitive decline or memory issues that make them more susceptible to scams
These factors make the elderly an attractive target for identity thieves, who may use their personal information to open credit cards, take out loans, or even commit crimes in their name.
Legal Remedies for Elderly Identity Theft Victims
If an elderly person becomes a victim of identity theft, there are several legal remedies available to them:
- File a police report: The first step in addressing identity theft is to file a police report. This can help establish a paper trail and may be required by banks and other institutions in order to resolve the issue.
- Place a fraud alert: Elderly victims of identity theft can place a fraud alert on their credit report. This notifies creditors and lenders that they may be a victim of fraud and requires them to take extra steps to verify the identity of anyone seeking credit in their name.
- Freeze credit: Another option is to freeze credit, which prevents anyone from opening new accounts in the victim’s name. This can be a good option for elderly people who do not need to apply for credit often.
- Seek legal action: Elderly victims of identity theft may be able to seek legal action against the person or entity responsible for the theft. This can include civil lawsuits or criminal charges.
Protections for the Elderly
Preventing identity theft in the first place is always the best course of action. Here are some protections that can help the elderly avoid becoming victims of identity theft:
- Shred personal documents: Elderly people should shred any documents containing personal information, such as bank statements, credit card offers, and medical bills.
- Do not give out personal information: Elderly people should be cautious about giving out personal information, whether in person, over the phone, or online.
- Use strong passwords: If an elderly person uses technology, they should use strong passwords with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Monitor financial accounts: Elderly people should monitor their financial accounts regularly for any suspicious activity.
- Stay informed: Elderly people should stay informed about the latest scams and frauds targeting seniors.
Identity theft is a serious issue for everyone, but it is particularly concerning for the elderly. Legal remedies and protections can help elderly victims of identity theft recover from the crime and prevent future incidents from occurring. By taking steps to protect themselves, the elderly can reduce their risk of becoming victims of identity theft.