In February Health insurer Anthem, an independent Blue Cross Blue Shield service provider, reported that at least 8.8 million people could be victims of a massive data breach in which the names, dates of birth, social security numbers and other sensitive material could have been harvested.
That same month in Indianapolis, police busted an identity theft ring targeting elderly people in at least one nursing home. Police found more than $100,000 in money and merchandise stolen from victims. The culprits opened fraudulent credit cards in the seniors names and went on shopping sprees. The victims of the thieves ranged in age from 80 to 90.
And in California just this month, police arrested a woman who they said burglarized senior citizens living in a senior citizen apartment complex near Fresno. The woman was identified as an employee at the apartment complex who made off with jewelry and other items and who opened fraudulent credit cards in her victims’ names.
Seniors are prime targets for identity thieves because they may not be actively monitoring their credit or may be too trusting of people looking to work scams on them to gain their identity or money.
LockLife, a credit monitoring and identity protection company, say there are other reasons why seniors are often on ID thieves hit lists: they might not report the crime because they are embarrassed they were had; they might have a large nest egg that is tempting for con artists and increased use of Medicare might mean sensitive information – such as social security numbers and birthdates – are in the hands of more and more people at doctors offices or assisted living facilities.
LifeLock has several suggestions for seniors or their care-givers to keep ID theft at bay:
- Don’t carry your social security card
- Never give out Medicare or Medicaid information over the phone or in answer to an email
- Pick up new checks at the bank rather than have them mailed
For more tips, click here.
If you or your loved one is an Anthem customer — as my own mother is — go online to sign up for free credit monitoring to make sure someone is not out shopping with credit cards created in their victims names.