The film Catch Me if You Can chronicles the crime exploits of world-traveling conman Frank Abagnale, who posed as an airline pilot and doctor among many other false identities. For the past 40 years, Abagnale has worked with America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation as an guide for fraud detection and prevention. Abagnale warns, “You should know, whether you live in the U.S. or in the U.K., that your identity has already been stolen.” That is sobering news no matter where you live.
Identity theft is universally recognizable and occurs when an imposter steals key personal information such as credit card and identification numbers from another person to obtain credit, services or merchandise in the name of the victim. The thief can also provide false information to police and create a criminal record for the person whose personal information was stolen.
Perpetrators can attack from almost anywhere on the earth to steal personal data from anyone living almost anywhere. Identity thieves or personal cyber-attackers often target older people because the elderly tend to be more vulnerable, own more assets and have more available cash. Older individuals also have a greater volume of personal information stored with health agencies and financial institutions.
“The identity stealing thieves also count on the elderly to be less likely to report being duped,” said Nancy Esson, Business Development Right at Home Canada, Georgian-Triangle. “Older adults can feel embarrassed or ashamed for being tricked, or some of them with diminished capacity are confused about their compromised personal information. The elderly also tend to be more trusting and likely to tell strangers personal details of family, birth date, finances and more personal facts that perpetrators can use.”
These criminals continually adapt to new ways to steal people’s financial, medical and other personal information. We put together some basic safeguards that can go a long way in protecting against common scams via phone, computer and mail.
The following steps are Esson recommendations to protect you and your ageing loved ones against identity loss:
• Update your online security passwords. Install a virus-protection, anti-spyware and firewall software on your and your elders computer to prevent cyber-programs from stealing your personal information. Only visit trusted websites and use unique passwords for your computer and any online accounts and change these passwords regularly.
• Make sure personal documents are secure. Store sensitive personal and financial records in a safe, locked place.
• Use a shredder. For any health insurance-related and medical financial paperwork that you plan to throw away, shred documents with a cross-cut shredder. There are also very reputable company’s where you can get private documents shredded as well.
• Be Suspicious of personal information requests. Do not reveal financial, medical or insurance information by phone or email unless you initiated the contact or can verify the party with whom you are communicating.
• Regularly monitor and review your credit card and bank statements. Sometimes perpetrators withdraw small amounts out of hacked financial accounts to avoid notice, so it is important to look over your financial statements each month. If you have encountered unauthorized activity on any of your financial accounts, consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit report.
• Create your own Wi-Fi hotspot when traveling. To safely use your laptop, tablet or smartphone when you are away from home, consider buying a portable router for online access. Most electronic stores carry a SIM data card for individual Wi-Fi connection
• Protect your personal identification cards. If any of your credit or personal identification cards are lost or stolen, immediately notify your card provider and ask for a replacement card.
With identity theft now more prevalent in country after country, many nations offer specific criminal activity resources to help with detection of the crime all the way through to prosecution.
“These preventative measures can help protect you and your elder loved ones from the major hindrance and inconvenience of your personal information getting in the wrong hands,” Esson adds. “Start with what you think is your weakest link in securing your personal data and build from there. Even being aware that identity thieves and cyber-hackers can attack the most unassuming person, is a step toward shutting these criminals down.”
With a unique approach and a higher level of quality of care, Right at Home Canada offers both non-medical and medical care to seniors and disabled adults who want to continue to live independently. Each caregiver is thoroughly screened, trained and insured prior to entering a client’s home.
Right at Home Canada provides the Right Care, focusing on the Right People doing the Right Things the Right Way for the Right Reason.