Tax season is a time of year that is looked upon with anticipation by some and pure dread by others. No matter what your take on it, tax season opens up a new playing field for unscrupulous individuals looking to capitalize from stealing another person’s identity. While we’re all at risk of tax related identity theft, seniors have more cause for concern.
So many of our daily operations have become digitized, and this includes financial activities such as banking, bill paying and tax preparation. Technology has many advantages, but for Baby Boomers who aren’t as tech savvy as younger generations, it often places them at a greater risk of identity theft. According to one report, criminals steal $37 billion every year from our nation’s senior citizens.
However, there is plenty that you can do to help prevent the senior in your in life from falling prey to tax time schemes and identity theft attempts. Here are 3 actionable steps to help prevent the senior you care about from becoming a victim of tax season identity crime.
Keep Personal Information Secure
This time of year, criminals are more likely to target and reach out to seniors in an attempt to gain their personal identifying information. They may do this through phone calls, emails or even a knock on the door offering in home tax services or tax season consulting.
It’s important for seniors to understand that they should only disclose their personal information to agencies they are familiar with and made the initiative to contact on their own. If they receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a tax preparer or representative from the Social Security office claiming to need verification of their ID number, the smart thing to do is back away fast. Reputable companies won’t make first contact in an attempt to gain identifying information.
Secure the Mail
While most people receive their tax refunds in the form of a direct deposit, criminals know that many seniors prefer to have their refund delivered in the form of a check. It’s important that seniors be extra aware of mail theft this time of year.
Also keep in mind that criminals might steal other mail in hopes of discovering key identifying information. If possible, arrange to have the senior’s mail delivered to a post office box instead of their home mailbox and offer to pick it up and deliver it for them. If the senior lives in an assisted living community, talk with management about their protocols for ensuring safe mail delivery.
Awareness Is Key
Awareness is one of the most effective ways of protecting seniors from identity theft. Educate yourself on the common frauds against seniors and pay attention to any media coverage of tax time schemes. Likewise, make sure the senior is checking their financial accounts regularly so that they can report any suspicious activity as soon as it occurs.
Seniors should be aware of the different ways they are vulnerable to identity theft. While the risk is greater for seniors, they shouldn’t let fear prevent them from living their best life. Sometimes, this means making a move to a senior living community that considers resident safety and security among its top priorities. At Lexington Square, we provide independent living, assisted living and memory care services for the special senior in your life. Contact us today to learn more about our wonderful communities.