What Retirees Need to Know About ID Theft

  • Streamline obituaries When it comes to obits, less is more.From birth dates and hometowns to relatives' names, obituaries are an information bonanza for identity thieves.For example, using the birth and death dates gleaned from the announcement, a con man can get copies of a death certificate, which often contains the deceased person's Social Security number, says Foley. Then, for a short time, the thief can use the person's identity to apply for new credit cards and loans, run up bills and walk away.Thwart the thieves: Instead of listing the birth date or birth year, just include the age at death. That makes it harder for criminals, says Foley. And consider leaving out specific mentions of the hometown or state, she says.
  • Beware of 'relatives' who call for money

    That friendly voice on the phone sounds vaguely familiar (or the connection is spotty, the volume low or the voice slightly garbled). It might not be anyone you even know, warns Foley. That's because sometimes a con artist will assume someone else's identity to pull a con.

    How it works: You answer the phone to hear "Hi Grandma," or "Hey, Aunt Phyllis." Caught unaware and not entirely sure, you ask, "Is that you, Bobby?" And of course it is.

    Bobby says he's away from home and in a spot of trouble. You can't tell anyone (his parents or siblings), because they'll get mad-won't understand-don't know he's traveling. But he trusts you, and needs you to send or wire some money, says Pavelites. He will, of course, repay you.

    Upend the con: Make an incorrect reference to something Bobby would know, Pavelites says. Like, "How are things in Buffalo?" when he lives in California. If Bobby doesn't correct you, hang up.

    Even better, call someone who knows how you can reach Bobby directly. When you talk to the real Bobby, chances are you'll discover he wasn't your caller, says Foley.

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