A lot of Floridians are retirees who spend their days around the pool or at the beach. The warmer weather attacks both golden agers and unfortunately identity thieves. Criminals know that retirees have money in the bank, retirement accounts and credit cards with high limits.
TechNewsDaily reports, “On a per capita basis, 361 Floridians out of every 100,000 were the victims of identity fraud in 2012, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s latest figures. Georgia ranked second, with 194 reports per 100,000, and California ranked No. 3 at 123 per 100,000—a third the rate of victims in Florida.”
Two types of identity theft often affect retirees: new account fraud and account takeover.
New account fraud refers to financial identity theft in which the victim’s personal identifying information, often a Social Security number and good credit standing, is used to create new accounts, which are then used to obtain products and services. Stolen Social Security numbers are often used to commit new account fraud.
Since the thief typically submits a different mailing address when applying for new accounts, the victim never receives the bills and may remain unaware of their existence until creditors come seeking payment for debts the thief has accumulated in the victim’s name.
Account takeover is discovered when victims notice suspicious charges on a credit card statement, or the credit card company may notice charges that seem unusual in the context of the victim’s established spending habits. Protecting yourself from account takeover is relatively easy. Simply pay attention to your statements every month and refute unauthorized charges immediately. I check my charges online once every two weeks.
Protecting yourself from new account fraud requires more effort than account takeover. You can attempt to protect your own identity by getting yourself a credit freeze or setting up your own fraud alerts. There are pros and cons to each.
One cool company that’s watching your back is iovation. iovation spots cyber criminals by analyzing the device reputation of the computers they use to connect to a website. They investigate for suspicious history and check for characteristics consistent with fraudulent users. And the best part is that iovation can prevent a criminal from using stolen data to open a new account in the first place—saving your nest egg for your golden years.