“The goal is not to scare you, but to give you practical information to help decrease the likelihood that you will be a victim of identity theft,” said Adam Vansant, Associate Vice President and Wealth Consultant at Fi Plan Partners, a financial planning and wealth management company based in Birmingham, AL.
Adam spoke recently on identity theft protection to an attentive audience of senior adults at Fair Haven, a continuum of care retirement community in Birmingham, AL. He shared some of the most common behaviors by senior citizens that put them at risk and make it easier for thieves to get hold of your information and identity.
Using Common or Easy Passwords
Don’t use passwords that could be easily associated with you, such as your birthday or wedding anniversary. Learn to make your passwords complex. And don’t use the same password over and over for different sites.
Using Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks
Don’t access personal information or sign in to financial institutions over a public Wi-Fi network. Wait until you are back at home within the safety of your secured network to do these tasks.
Keeping Social Security Number On Your Person
Memorize your social security number and store your card in a safe place at home. Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet, or store the number in your wallet. Avoid providing your social security number whenever possible. There are some places, such as doctor’s offices, where your social security number is required, but many places will accept other forms of identification.
Leaving Your Phone Unlocked
Always lock your phone (and other devices) when not in use. Change the setting in your phone to lock out after a certain period of inactivity. And take care to keep your phone surface clean so that a thief cannot guess your password by observing the smudged fingerprint pattern on the screen.
Not Knowing Who Is Behind You
Another way thieves get your information is by shoulder surfing. While you are deeply entranced in the content of your phone or laptop, someone could be looking over your shoulder, watching you enter your password or other entering other private information. Be aware of who is around you any time you are using your devices.
Ignoring Your Financial Statements
Any time you get any of your financial reports, whether investment accounts, bank or credit card statements, practice the 3 “Rs”: receive, review and report. As soon as you RECEIVE your statement, REVIEW it for any charges or withdrawals that are not your own, and REPORT any discrepancies right away to the financial institution.
So what do you do if you become a victim of identity theft? Report it right away by filing a police report, informing the FTC of the matter, and creating a fraud alert or freezing your credit with the three credit bureaus. You can contact the FTC online at IdentityTheft.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338. The three credit bureaus can be reached at:
Equifax: 1- 888-766-0008
To contact Adam Vansant, or for more information about Fi Plan Partners and their wealth management services, visit their website at fiplanpartners.com or contact them at 205-989-3498.
For information about life at Fair Haven, including details on our how to make Fair Haven your or your loved one’s new home, contact our admissions team at 205-956-4150, or send an email to [email protected].