Our patriarchs and matriarchs are reminders of where we have come from and where we will one day arrive. We love them and respect how hard they’ve worked. They deserve to enjoy their retirement, but we have a responsibility to help them stay safe. No one wants to be told that they’re making bad choices or that they’re taking dangerous risks. However, protecting our seniors from identity theft is important. We all live in the same digital world, but they’re especially vulnerable to its threats.
With the right information and a caring attitude, we can empower them to protect their personal information and online identity.
On the Internet
Many retirees enjoy living in condos and special communities, while others prefer the comfort of their own homes. Regardless of their choices, our seniors have several things in common that make them attractive targets for identity thieves. Strong credit profiles, solid bank accounts and property ownership are bait for unscrupulous predators. Though this financial stability can be applauded as a badge of honor it can also be easily hijacked.
Social security numbers are primary keys for illegal access. In addition, credit cards and bank accounts also serve as portals for criminal activity. Most seniors enjoy Internet access, but they might not understand how easily their vital information can be stolen. Today’s hackers are very sophisticated and can easily raid online transactions. They use emails that appear legitimate to obtain important account numbers or install malware that tracks user activity. With only a few keystrokes, our elders can unknowingly set themselves up for financial disaster.
In the Know
The best way to shield golden agers from identity theft is to get them involved. Once they realize how easy it is to lose everything, they understand the importance of staying vigilant. Explain that no legitimate business ever asks for social security numbers or financial information unless they’ve been contacted by the user, first. This applies to online transactions, but also covers regular mail, email and phone calls. Demonstrate how to identify a safe site on the Internet by the “s” after the “http” in a web address and how to recognize security icons. Print an example of a phishing email message, and point out the red flags. Show seniors how to safely monitor their financial accounts online. It’s an effective way to spot trouble early, and it gives them a sense of control.
Away From Home
All of these ideas work for seniors who live on their own, but these strategies are just as applicable to those in assisted living facilities. Internet access is a fact of life regardless of location, and residents in most assisted living environments enjoy an active online presence. When the time comes to make the move to a facility, families should ask about established policies and practices. A reputable location always ensures the security and safety of its residents and will gladly explain exactly what they offer. Their professional staff members understand everything from Internet use to traditional identity protection. Given the information and the tools, seniors are very capable of protecting themselves. In the right environment, they have the extra security of a watchful and caring staff.
Available Programs and Services
There are many programs and services that provide computer classes and safety to facilities that specialize in assisted living in Birmingham AL and other cities around the country. They provide computer tutoring in community centers, libraries, and even hospitals in many local venues. Nonprofit organizations like SeniorNet are dedicated to enhancing the lives of seniors through technology. Fortunately, these services are easily accessible and not limited to location. Therefore, aging adults can benefit from these virtual classes across the entire globe.
The effects of senior identity theft can be devastating. A few stolen numbers result in bogus credit cards, fake checking accounts and drained savings. With a little help from us, our seniors can protect their identities and enjoy safe, secure lives regardless of where they make their homes. They deserve that peace of mind; we do too.
Jamica Bell is a researcher and business owner who is an advocate for seniors embracing technology. Chateau Vestavia is a retirement community dedicated to providing full service assisted living in Birmingham AL . They also offer independent living options and memory care, as well as an array of amenities and services for the enrichment of seniors.