Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the United States. Tens of millions of people have their vital information stolen every year, and the baby-boomer generation is one of identity thieves' prime targets.
Identity theft occurs when someone takes another person's information, such as credit card numbers and social security numbers, without that person's knowledge, and exploits it for personal gain. These thieves most often obtain personal information to commit fraud or steal money from the owner's active accounts. Identity thieves have been known to take out excessive loans, open lines of credit and commit other crimes under an assumed identity yours.
With an increasing median age among the United States' population, a popular and troubling trend is Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Baby boomers account for more than 10 percent of all identity theft cases, and in recent years, more than 3.5 million baby-boomer households have been affected by identity theft. However, there is a way to protect yourself. There are many identity theft protection services that mature adults can turn to when they need someone to keep a watchful eye on their identities.
Why Do ID Thieves Target Baby Boomers?
Baby boomers are an attractive target for identity thieves because of the robust nature of the baby-boomer lifestyle. After a lifetime of hard work and raising children who have since left home to start lives of their own, baby boomers are more likely to own their homes, have solid credit ratings and more access to wealth. Seniors are also more trusting and tend to be less likely to report identity theft because they don't want their families to assume that they are unable to attend to their own affairs. As a result, Social Security checks are a big target that provides a steady flow of cash for identity thieves.
This all leads to greater risk, but it also has more harsh ramifications for mature adults. As people age, they need more medical care; more medical care means more instances of seniors giving their personal information to various medical facilities and Medicare services. With an increased need for care and a diminished ability to attain more income, baby boomers must protect what they have earned throughout their lives. With so much inherent risk, it is wise for baby boomers from all walks of life to seek out the best identity protection.
What Protection is Available?
Many protection services are tailored specifically to seniors. A service such as AARP Credit and Identity Theft Protection from TrustedID acts as a constant watchdog that provides alerts to any suspicious activity. When you look for the best identity protection for your situation, Find a service with the following features:
- Credit monitoring from all three major credit bureaus
- Proactive Social Security number monitoring
- Proactive public records monitoring (name, address, telephone, etc.)
- Medical benefits monitoring
- Lost Wallet features, which allow you to easily and quickly access your credit card and private information if your wallet is lost or stolen
- Plans that extend protection to your spouse, children and even grandchildren
- Always-on and available service representatives to help you in an emergency or just with simple questions
While identity theft protection services are a good investment in your personal identity protection, there are also things you can do on your own to safeguard your identity.
- Secure your credit card numbers and keep them in a safe place in case your cards are lost or stolen
- Keep your vital information such as Social Security cards, bank statements and medical statements in a safe place, such as a home safe or safety deposit box
- Never carry your Social Security card with you
- When you pay any bills with a check, only use the last four numbers of your account
- Never give out any vital information over the phone or in an email
With so many opportunistic thieves focusing their efforts on defrauding the baby-boomer generation, it is wise to keep a vigilant eye on your own identity. With a number of personal safeguards and a solid identity theft protection service, you can keep your nest egg intact and live the life you have earned for yourself and your family.