Elder Abuse

Many seniors have carried their social security card and number around for decades and it is a hard habit to break but seniors need to understand that today the practice simply isn’t smart or safe. Medicare card numbers put seniors at risk too. Instead seniors can leave their cards secured at home and instead carry a copy of their Medicare card with them, with the SSN blacked out. This will help you get the medical treatment you need in case of emergency and but still keep your information safe in case of a theft. Hospitals will not deny treatment based on carrying a copy of your Medicare card. The real card can be presented later.

Do not give out information over the phone, especially bank account or credit card information. If someone calls and claims to be from a bank or credit card company, hang up and call the institution back at a number you already have on a statement. Real institutions will not ask you for sensitive information over the phone and will already have the answers to the questions scammers are fishing for.

There are so many worthy charities out there and unfortunately so many charity scams that want to prey on the generosity of the elderly. CharityNavigator.org is a trustworthy site for researching charities before giving.

Invest in a shredder and a lock safe box. Keep and lock up tax returns for seven years but you have 15 year old tax returns, it is time to shred them.

Shred all pre-approved credit card offers. They put you at risk for identity theft.

Never sign the back of your credit cards. Instead write photo i.d. required. This makes a stolen credit card less useful in retail stores or banks, although it could still be used for on-line or phone shopping.

Signing up for the Do Not Call Registry can help protect your phone number from scammers.

-Opt out of receiving offers based on your credit report by calling 1-888-567-8688, the Federal Trade Commissions “opt out” line.

Review your financial records including banking, credit card, Social Security benefits, insurance statements and Medicare statements as they arrive for inaccuracies.

Use passwords but choose carefully. It’s tempting to chose an easy to remember number like the last four digits of your social or your birthday but these are too easy for identity thieves. Also, don’t write down and keep your passwords on your desks, in your purse or address book. Lock these away in your lock box too.

Don’t carry credit cards with you that you don’t need. Be sure to make copies of cards and have all phone numbers on file in case your card is stolen or accessed.

Protect your mail from identity thieves. Use a locking mailbox and cancel mail delivery through your post office when you will be away.

Don’t put your trash out way ahead of time for curbside pick up and make sure any trash bins you store outside aren’t easily accessible without being seen. Dumpster diving is just one small way identity thieves go treasure hunting but it still happens.

Lastly, be very careful when issuing a power of attorney. Don’t make a quick, rash or emotional decision and be very suspicious of new acquaintances or newly interested relatives that offer to be your power of attorney. Power of attorney really does offer a lot of power.