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Britt Erica Tunick is an award winning financial journalist who has spent the past 17 years writing about virtually every aspect of finance.

Steps to Take to Protect Older Adults against Fraud and Identity Theft

Steps to Take to Protect Older Adults against Fraud and Identity Theft

By Britt Erica Tunick

From online banking and mobile payments, to grocery shopping and virtually everything in between, COVID-19 has expedited many older Americans’ acceptance of online services they previously avoided. Well aware of this shift, cyber criminals have stepped up their efforts to target baby boomers and the elderly through a variety of scams —from high tech malware, to low-tech schemes through the mail and over the phone. As a result, many older Americans are becoming more proactive when it comes to efforts to protect themselves against fraud and identity theft.

According to “Identity Fraud in Three Acts,” a new report from AARP and Javelin Strategy & Research, although 26% of people age 55 or older have been impacted by identity fraud, 70% of identify fraud victims who are age 65 or older still remain hesitant to change their behavior when it comes to the way they bank or shop.

As the pandemic stretches on and mobile banking and online shopping become a staple in many people’s lives, following are some steps you can take to protect yourself or anyone in your life who is older, and who has newly embraced online banking or shopping.

  • Make sure to use complex passwords to secure personal devices such as laptops, tablets, and mobile phones, and utilize any additional authentication security measures that are available to you, such as facial or fingerprint recognition.
  • Do not rely on the same password for multiple websites or accounts. Instead, consider taking advantage of the more elaborate, randomly-generated passwords that many organizations such as banks provide, and store them within a password management tool that only requires you to remember a single password to access your password vault.
  • Never provide personal information or account information to anyone who calls you whom you do not know, and make sure to confirm the identity of anyone contacting you from a bank or business that you use.
  • If you are responsible for the welfare of an older family member, consider reaching out to a financial advisor for help keeping their information and accounts safe. Ask management at any organizations your family members frequent to alert you if they notice any suspicious activity.
  • Double check the numbers of any banks or organizations that you do business with if you are looking up their numbers online, as cyber criminals have gotten incredibly sophisticated and will often create phony websites with fake phone numbers for legitimate businesses.