News & Resources

Identity thieves target the elderly

Feb 03, 2012 Matt Roesly

Florida ranks first in the nation for per capita identity theft complaints, according to the Federal Trade Commission, and their vast population of elderly citizens only encourages thieves in the state. In a study of the link between elderly and identity theft, Erin L. Sylvester of NELLCO found that thieves are more likely to target seniors. "The elderly are targeted because it is assumed they are gullible, unsuspecting, and ignorant of scams," Sylvester wrote. "In addition, it is assumed that after a lifetime of work they have assets to steal. It is important to educate seniors about ways to protect themselves and minimize potential damage." Sylvester reveals a new method of identity theft has emerged which includes a thief getting employed by a financial institution, whereupon they have access to financial reports and personal information of customers. In addition, some thieves steal mail from elderly residences or fill out a change-of-address form and have a victim's personal mail sent directly to a mailbox of their choosing. With this information, they can create fraudulent credit cards. Sylvester suggests stringent legislation needs to be put forth that restricts the wide-spread access of personal information to the public.