$40+ Billion Cost & Rising
The cost of identity theft can be steep for anyone. Statistics indicate that healthcare fraud and identity theft alone cost the industry over $40 billion in 2012. Identity theft can rob individuals of strong credit scores, feelings of confidence in the system, and even money from their bank account. For seniors, identity theft can lead to problems obtaining necessary health care or medication because someone has already maxed out Medicare coverage limits under their name.
Seniors More Vulnerable to Identity Thieves
Identity thieves may target seniors for several reasons. They believe seniors are less electronically savvy and more trusting, which makes older adults easier targets for scams or phishing schemes. In some ways, the existing system makes it easier to obtain personal identifying information about seniors. For example, a Medicare card contains all of the information someone would need to begin healthcare fraud by stealing an identity.
How Can Seniors Protect Themselves
The cost of identity theft is steep in both hassle and financial loss, so it’s worth it to take measures to protect yourself.
1. Verify phone numbers
Never provide personal information on an incoming phone call. Legitimate representatives from banks, financial organizations, and medical facilities won’t call you and ask for things like social security numbers. If the call sounds legitimate, hang up, verify the number, and call back before providing any personal or sensitive information.
2. Guard documents
Don’t carry your Medicare card in your wallet at all times and keep documents with sensitive information in a secure location. When medical documents with account numbers are no longer needed, have them professionally shredded.
3. Protect yourself online
Make sure you understand how to protect yourself online through strong password management. Avoid phishing scams — if an offer or email sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
Have you been the victim? What was the cost of identity theft for you?