This past September, Equifax released alarming news that they had experienced one of the largest cybersecurity breaches in history. From mid-May through July of 2017, over 145.5 million US residents were put at risk of identity theft. The criminals responsible for this breach were able to access personal information such as names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. Although this breach was monumental, leaving millions of Americans feeling exploited, vulnerable, and in constant fear of identity, Equifax created resources that allowed those affected to take proper measurements to further secure their personal information.
As of recently, there have not been any reported unauthorized activity on any consumer or commercial credit reporting databases. However, in light of this breach, senior citizens need to be on constant alert for scams or fraudulent activity that can occur on their banking accounts. Not only are they vulnerable to financial scams in general, but the Equifax breach could leave them at an even greater risk. Although many senior citizens are highly capable of avoiding financial scams, it’s always highly important for family member or caregiver to look out and protect them as well.
Seniors and Caretakers Working Together to Avoid Scammers
In a survey conducted by the Cooperative Credit Union Association (CCUA)–a trade group based in New England–research showed that more than two-thirds (out of 1,700 people) of caretakers reported that scammers had attempted to target their elderly relatives (Source). Furthermore, the most popular attempt at fraud was through phone calls; however, 22% of those same scam attempts were made through either email or another form of online contact.
In addition to their study, the CCUA found that those same caretakers worry that their loved ones will not have the ability to spot a fraud as efficiently as they can. With the Equifax breach being the newest form of financial fraud, caregivers are worried more now than ever.
As stated previously, 145.5 million consumer credit files were compromised in the Equifax breach. With the two most important pieces of information being hacked and accessed–birth dates and driver’s license numbers–caregivers are growing increasingly concerned. With access to their driver’s license numbers, birth date, and Social Security number, scammers will have full capability to cross-reference their information and begin to target their victims by their age group. Unfortunately, it’s far too often that fraud is detected once it’s too late, therefore, it’s highly important for family members, friends, and caretakers to educate themselves on ways to help their loved ones avoid the risk of falling victim to a financial fraud.
Protecting Seniors From Scams
Here are some tips to protect your elderly relatives from scams and fraudsters:
- Talk to them regularly about all of their financial decisions.
- Inform them of ways to handle potential scammers when you aren’t there to do it for them. It’s important for them to have an idea of what to look out for in order to successfully avoid any forms of financial scam; even if it means writing up a script on what they can say to scammers that call them.
- Advise them that if they think they are receiving a call that doesn’t seem right, then they need to hang up immediately.
Being educated and helping your loved one become more educated is one of the best courses of action in order to thoroughly protect and prevent any type of financial fraud from occurring to your elderly loved one.
With a breach as significant as the one that Equifax faced, it’s highly important for seniors to be on high alert for any forms of scams that are a result of this massive infringement on the personal information of US citizens.