Two men playing chessIdentity theft against older adults is growing and becoming more of a threat. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that adults between age 70-79 lost on average $45,300 in identity theft scams.

Below are four very common identity theft scams that target older adults, and six ways they can protect themselves.

Common Identity Theft Scams Targeting Seniors

  1. Identity theft by friends, family, personal caregivers: These individuals make purchases, obtain credits, or take out loans in the name of an older adult. The older adult doesn’t know or give permission and does not benefit. This theft is particularly malicious because it is harder to investigate.
  2. Telemarketing fraud: Older women living alone are particularly at risk. They are more likely to be lonely and willing to make friends over the phone, letting their guard down, and giving out personal information.
  3. Medical identity theft: An older adult’s personally identifiable information, such as a social security number, is used to bill for medical services not received. This is particularly a problem for Medicaid recipients.
  4. Military identity theft: Scammers call older adults to “confirm” their disability status and ask for their social security number. Scammers then claim and collect military benefits in the name of the elder.

How to be Protected from Identity Theft

  1. Don’t be isolated. Stay active and connected through regular in-person visits, email, and Skyping with a wide variety of friends and family.
  2. Have an estate plan, including designating a power of attorney and a health care directive.
  3. Sign up for Guide Change to monitor bank and financial accounts.
  4. Establish direct deposit for recurring checks.
  5. Authorize a co-partner to become a trusted advisor to be notified of suspicious spending patterns.
  6. Sign up for a safe phone service that stops robocalls, telemarketers, and scammers such as teleCalm.

You have the super power to protect yourself and secure your future.

This blog post was contributed by Leah Cohen, co-founder of Guide Change. With over 40 years of experience assisting older adults, Guide Change experts use data and insights to create personalized financial reports for individuals and their trusted advisors. Learn more at

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