For the younger generations, the risks of identity theft are well known. Anyone that is young enough to have embraced the use of computers typically has a very clear understanding of the dangers associated with storing personal information on a computer. For the elderly, the risk of identity theft is often not something they think about for the simple fact that they did not grow up using computers. For many elderly individuals, the ease at which information can be extracted from a computer is not something they fully understand or worry about. If you are a loved one of an elderly person, you may wish to take it upon yourself to worry for him or her.
Another factor that makes the elderly more susceptible to identity theft is that they often come into close contact with more strangers that younger individuals by virtue of the fact that they frequently need people to assist them with daily needs or tasks. Every home health aide, nurse, gardener or house cleaner could be less then trustworthy, yet the elderly are often forced to trust these people.
The first step in protecting an elderly loved one is to talk to them about the risks of identity theft. Educate them on the need to guard personal information that may be stored on a computer or input into a data base for any reason. Also, talk about some of the warning signs that could indicate identity theft has occurred. You may also wish to talk to your estate planning attorney about giving you power of attorney so that you can personally monitor financial accounts and computer files.
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