Top Tools Seniors Can Use To Protect Themselves From Identity Theft
If you are a senior citizen, you are a target for scams and fraud. In fact senior citizens are targeted actively by fraudsters. There are 6 different scams that the Federal Trade Commission has warned are targeting today’s senior citizens, and these include the Nigerian “You’ve Won” and everyday identity theft. Identity theft is one of the leading forms of fraud perpetrated on senior citizens today. These scams amount to elder abuse, but there are ways you can prevent this from happening, including on very powerful tool you have at your disposal. We will also discuss steps you can take if you have fallen victim to one of these crimes.
The most powerful tool you have is your ability to contact all 3 consumer reporting agencies and place a security freeze on your credit reports. The reporting agencies for credit are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and each of them has a tool free number as well as a website. Simply contact all 3 agencies and ask for a security freeze. This will prevent any new loans, inquiries or credit being taken out under your identity. Now you may ask why everyone does not do this already, and the answer is that when you do this, you need to call all three agencies back again and have the security freeze lifted if you want to apply for a loan or credit. In fact until you do this, no creditor can even pull your information. While this makes it a pain the apply for credit and slows down the process when you do legitimately want to apply for credit, it also stops identity theft in its tracks. Rather it stops identity theft that relies on your credit report, which is most financial services.
While credit reporting agencies do charge a fee for this service, and the fee will vary by state of residence, senior citizens who are age 65 or older are eligible to have this fee waived. Also any identity theft victim will have this fee waived, provided that they provide the credit reporting agencies a copy of a police report. You can even opt for a PIN code to allow creditors to pull your report. While the fee can be waived to place the credit freeze, there are fees to lift the credit freeze or to remove it fully. Yet this is a small price to pay for peace of mind and security in today’s age of rampant identity theft. There is perhaps no tool more powerful than the credit freeze in your available arsenal of anti-fraud tools.
If you do fall victim of identity theft, there is not many options open to you. Of course the first step is two contact the police and file out a police report. You next step will be to pull your credit reports and place a freeze on your credit report right away. Also let the credit reporting agencies know you were the victim of identity theft, it can be notated directly on your credit report. Your next step will be to dispute any fraudulent charges as fraudulent and try to fight the charges that way. This can be a long uphill battle that sadly many people loose , with the exception of credit card fraud which you are covered for as per your card holder agreement.