Old People and Identity Theft

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What is it about older people that makes them so vulnerable to identity theft and other types of scams? Is it that they come from a gentler time when people didn't take advantage of each other, and thus they are programmed to be more trusting? Is there something that changes as we age that makes us more susceptible to scams? Or is it that this is just a more visible group of victims because they seem to have more to lose?

Whatever the cause, it's clear that the older members of our society are being targeted, so what can we do about this? We can continue to expose scams and try to educate potential victims through news stories. We can work on educating our elders about ways in which they can protect themselves. As tax and financial advisors to older people, do we owe it to those who raised us to spend a bit more time with these clients, teaching them ways to protect their assets?


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The IRS is not helping when they ask people to put their SS # on their payment checks!

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Making seniors more aware and watchful may seem like a good way to lower the incidence of these crimes, but a more effective means of lowering this type of crime is for law enforcement to be more aggresive in pursuing the criminals. I have a few "elderly" clients (I should clarify that I probably qualify as fitting into that class now myself) who have experienced identity theft. The attempts generally can be traced back to some lack of security, not by the victim, but because of the involvement of either some service provider (government programs included) or selling of target mailing or marketing lists by groups like AARP that focus on seniors. Unfortunately, law enforcement is poorly equipped and in many cases not motivated in tracking down and prosecuting the perpetrators. In one case we gave them all of the documentation regarding the crime, the name of the perpetrator organization, address, and even the IP, websites etc. and the police department did not pursue an arrest or even the filing of a complaint, because the victim had recovered their loss. The crime had been committed and the perpetrator was still out there doing the same thing to other potential victims.
If the criminals are not vigorously pursued, they will continue to be criminals. We need to act by making criminal prosecution of those perpetrators a priority.

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For business owners this is a question about costumer relations and costumer care. 

To build system that makes identity theft hard and to always have the identity theft risk in the back of your head when you expand your business and building new systems.  

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I'm 64 years old; so I am old.  Identity theft?  Perhaps that explains why half the time I don't even recall who I am any more.

The Barefoot Accountant

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