June 4, 2014

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Protecting Every Generation From Identity Theft

I’m so lucky. My mom is an amazing 74 years young and still going strong. An early adopter of technology, she was sending texts before me!

Recently, she decided to make the switch to online banking. I thought this was a great idea—until during my last visit to my parent’s home I discovered that she had written down their bank account numbers and online passwords and stashed them under the keyboard of their computer. Gulp. Fortunately for them, I was the one who found the password list.

Your Senior Parents Are Vulnerable to Identity Theft

I love that my mom is digitally savvy and ready for the world of online financial management. I worry, however, that the more personal information she puts online, the more vulnerable she and my dad will be to scams and frauds. Senior citizens are ripe targets for identity thieves, as they tend to be more trusting and have readily accessible savings accounts. As their earning years are behind them, if they lose their savings, they won’t be able to rebuild their nest egg.

It’s Up To You to Help Protect Your Parents

To their credit, my parents listened patiently to my in-depth lecture on identity theft. Now, they store their passwords in a safer location, away from their computer, and agreed to get into the habit of changing their passwords every three months. They have also password-protected their Wi-Fi and “locked” their digital devices with passwords or PINs. I also bought them a shredder so they can shred all documents that contain personal information, including junk mail.

Children Need Protection From Identity Theft

It was time to turn my attention to my close friend who just had twins. As new parents, she and her husband have their hands full x 2. I had already signed them up for a gift of IdentityForce’s UltraSecure with ChildWatch. Still, I needed to impress upon them that child identity theft is on the rise.

Child identity theft is when a child’s personal information is exploited for personal gain to open new lines of credit, apply for credit and debit cards, car loans, mortgages, or utilities. Typically, parents don’t find out a crime has been committed until years later when their child is denied a driver’s license because one has already been issued with the child’s name and social security number, or they are denied a credit card or car loan due to bad credit that a thief left behind.

How To Protect Your Kids From Identity Theft

I recommended that my sister and her husband read our earlier post with tips for preventing child identity theft so they will be cautious about sharing the twins’ social security numbers, will shred any paperwork related to the children, and will keep personal documents in a secure place such as a locked file cabinet or, better yet, a bank safe deposit box.

I also advised them to be on the lookout for any “junk” mail that is addressed to the twins. Pre-approved credit card offers, extended product warranties, etc., would indicate that their child’s identity was stolen and used to commit fraud.

One thing is for sure—their twins will be growing up in an even more digitally focused world. I wonder what adventures await them?

Melanie Medina

Sr. Director of Digital Marketing at IdentityForce
Melanie is a native of Bolivia who has lived in Boston for over 10 years. She likes to make time to travel, jog, read, and play backgammon. Fueled by copious amounts of coffee, Melanie stays on top of her to-do list while also keeping abreast of identity theft issues. Serious data breaches are happening all the time in the U.S. and Melanie loves being part of a solution that brings peace of mind to families across the country.

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