From the Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center: Older Americans and ID Theft: When It Hits Home

Older Americans and ID Theft: When It Hits Home

  • By Steve Toporoff
  • June 20, 2012 – 11:48am

When it comes to identity theft, older Americans face unique risks.  While all age groups may be vulnerable, older consumers are more likely to have to share personal data with doctors, hospitals, lawyers, financial advisors, and others.  Some may face physical limitations or health challenges that could make it more difficult to safeguard their information — like securing decades of financial paperwork or managing the learning curve as life moves online.  How does this issue affect you?  As the business person or attorney in the family, your relatives may look to you to take the lead in sensitive conversations with aging parents.

To get a better handle on the extent and nature of senior identity theft issues, FTC staff is asking for your input.  Specifically, we’re looking for information about:

  • the prevalence of identity theft targeting senior citizens,
  • types of identity theft schemes and the extent to which thieves use them to target seniors,
  • precautions seniors can take to protect their identity, and
  • public and private sector solutions to senior identity theft.

Even if this issue doesn’t affect you personally, your company or firm still should get involved.  Why?  Three reasons come to mind immediately:  First, businesses that deal with seniors may see examples of identity theft in their daily operations.  For example, a member of your staff may spot the fraudulent use of a long-time customer’s ID or Social Security number.  Second, local leaders can play an important role in raising awareness about this topic.  Tips on identity theft prevention carry particular weight when they come from respected members of the business or legal community.  Third, any form of identity theft — including senior identity theft — can have serious economic consequences for companies.  Older consumers and their families are more likely to do business with establishments that maintain sound security and share helpful information about preventing ID theft.

The deadline for comments in July 15, 2012.  Save a step by filing online.

Looking for more information about preventing ID theft at home and at your business or firm?  Visit the FTC’s identity theft site.  If you or someone you know has been the target of ID theft, read the FTC’s new publication, Taking Charge: What To Do if Your Identity is Stolen, for a step-by-step action plan.

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