CareOne At Madison Avenue Educates Seniors On Fraud And Identity Theft
Last year’s data breaches at Target, Home Depot and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, exposed millions of people to identity theft. According to the United States Bureau of Justice, approximately $24.7 billion was lost to identity theft in 2012, representing 16 million victims or 7% of the US population. Over the past 10 years, the number of identity theft victims has doubled in size and 85% of identity theft involves unauthorized credit card use.
CareOne at Madison Avenue recently addressed this growing issue with an informative seminar on fraud and identity theft in the elderly population. Presented by Detective Stephen Ortiz of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Financial Crimes Unit, the interactive workshop provided attendees, including CareOne residents and community members, with a comprehensive overview of identity theft as well as prevention methods to keep your personal information safe.
Detective Ortiz outlined the traditional methods used to perpetrate identity theft: stealing mail, going through trash and pick pocketing. He then went on to discuss the following modern identity theft methods: internet viruses sent to computer users through legitimate looking e-mails, e-mail “phishing”, business record theft, phone scams, credit card skimming and Wi-Fi hacking. Scams specifically targeted at seniors include lottery scams, usually done by phone, e-mail or regular mail, and involve providing money in order to receive “lottery winnings” and IRS scams, primarily done by phone notifying you of a “mistake” made on your taxes that will result in immediate arrest if funds are not paid.
If your credit has been compromised, Detective Ortiz recommends following these steps:
- Contact the 3 major credit reporting agencies to notify them – Experion, Trans Union and Equifax.
- Close any accounts that have been compromised.
- File a police report.
- Examine all credit and bank accounts for irregularities.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission because they keep a database tracking identity theft.
- Order a copy of your credit report to make sure that no new accounts have been opened in your name.
- Keep a record of all the agencies you contacted.
Detective Ortiz concluded his presentation by providing 10 tips on preventing yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft:
- Shred all credit card and bank statements.
- Limit online purchases and be wary of e-mails requesting your billing information.
- When making online purchases, use a low-limit or pre-paid credit card.
- Don’t carry your social security card with you.
- Password protect all of your accounts.
- Install virus protection software on your computer.
- Choose passwords that have no personal connection to you.
- Don’t give out your personal information over the phone.
- Order a copy of your credit report twice a year.
- Be observant of those around you when conducting ATM and credit card transactions.
To learn about upcoming CareOne workshops and events, visit us online at www.care-one.com.