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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guard your card

Identity theft affects about 9 million Americans every year — many of whom are seniors. Identity theft occurs when someone gets access to your Social Security number, bank or credit card account number, or other identifying information and uses it to steal from you. While there's no ironclad protection against identity theft, here are some things you can do to minimize your risks.

Guard your SSN: Treat you SSN like your most prized possession. Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse, don't write your SSN on checks, and never give your SSN, credit card number, checking or savings account numbers to strangers who call, visit, text or send email to you even if they seem legitimate. And don't carry around your Medicare card unless you're going to the doctor.

Be wary of emails: Don't trust emails that claim to be from the Social Security Administration, the IRS or other government agencies. Be leery of emails that look like they're from your bank, telephone company or credit card company. Remember that only phony emails will ask for your credit card number or SSN. For more Internet fraud tips including a list of common online scams go to onguardonline.gov.

Secure your mail: Empty your mailbox quickly, or consider getting a P.O. box or buy a locked mailbox to deter thieves. Also, don't leave outgoing mail in your mailbox. To put a stop to prescreened credit-card offers that thieves look to intercept, use the consumer credit reporting industry opt-out service at optoutprescreen.com or call (888) 567-8688.

Destroy your trash: Buy a cross-cut paper shredder and shred all records, receipts, statements, preapproved credit offers, mail solicitations or other papers you throw out that has your financial or personal information.

Monitor your accounts: Review your monthly bank and credit card statements carefully; see whether your bank or credit-card issuer offers free alerts that will warn you of suspicious activity as soon as it's detected. If they do, sign up for them.

Watch your credit: Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com or call (877) 322-8228. You can receive one free report a year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), so consider staggering your request so you can get one free copy every four months.

Set up security freezes: You can help protect yourself by setting up a security freeze on your credit reports at all three credit bureaus — Equifax (equifax.com, (800) 685-1111), Experian (experian.com, (888) 397-3742) and TransUnion (transunion.com, (877) 322-8228). With a freeze in place, no one, including you, can open new lines of credit in your name. This typically costs $5 to $10 per person per credit bureau each time you freeze or thaw your credit report. Some states offer free freezes for ID-theft victims.

Take action: If you think your identity's been stolen, immediately contact your creditors and financial institutions to report unauthorized charges or debts, and close any compromised accounts. Then place fraud alerts and security freezes with the three credit reporting agencies, and file a report with your local police and with the Federal Trade Commission online at ftccomplaintassistant.gov or (877) 438-4338.

For more tips on preventing identity theft, go to idtheftinfo.org and idtheftcenter.org.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article Grace. If I may, sometimes this becomes overwhelming for Seniors. So I do have an easier solution that for pennies a day they can become worry free, every day, every night, now and forever by obtaining LegalShield & Identity Theft Shield. It monitors their credit file and notifies them monthly if no activity or immediately if there is activity. This is the only company nationwide with licensed investigators that will fully restore them in all 5 areas of identity theft not just financial. It gives them access to attorneys for identity theft and everyday life such as a complimentary will and living will.

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