August 02, 2023

Recommendations for Safeguarding Seniors Against Identity Theft

Identity theft is a growing concern in today's digital and physical world. Unfortunately, seniors are often some of those most targeted by scammers. Elder fraud, as it is commonly known, poses a significant threat to the financial security and well-being of older adults. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), in 2022, it received fraud reports totaling $530 million in losses. Of those losses, more than $9.2 million was reported lost to grandparent/emergency scams. 

Why Are Seniors Often Targeted for Identity Theft?

Seniors are targets for identity theft due to several factors. Many older adults have accumulated significant assets and wealth throughout their lives, such as properties, savings accounts, and retirement accounts, making them appealing targets for scammers seeking financial gain.

Additionally, aging and health issues can make seniors more vulnerable and easier to manipulate. Those who live alone may be more trusting of strangers due to feelings of loneliness. Seniors may also hesitate to report fraud due to embarrassment or fear of being perceived as incapable of managing their finances. These factors combined make seniors ideal targets for identity theft, prompting the need to promote education about the most common types of scams and provide recommendations that can help seniors protect themselves from malicious individuals.

Financial Abuse Scams Targeting Seniors

Numerous financial scams specifically target seniors, and these often involve physical documents. According to the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime report on elder abuse, the most prevalent ones include, but not limited to:

  • Identity Theft
  • Credit/Debit Card Frauds
  • Tax Scams
  • Door-to-Door Scams

Recommendations for Protecting Information from Identity Theft

Seniors can take proactive measures to protect their personal information from identity theft. Here are three recommendations:

  1. Safeguard personal documents: Store documents containing personal information in a safe or locked cupboard to prevent unauthorized access.
  2. Shred documents: Dispose of documents that contain personal information by shredding them. Avoid throwing them in the garbage or recycling bin, as scammers can retrieve sensitive information. Sensitive documents also include junk mail. Secure document destruction services, like Shred-it®, offer fast and convenient residential shredding options such as:
  • Residential and one-time pick-up service: Shred-it® offers a convenient one-time pick-up service, where a company representative can come directly to seniors' homes and collect bags and boxes of confidential material. These documents are then securely shredded at dedicated facilities. Seniors receive Proof of Service, which indicates the collection of their personal information for destruction.
  • Secure drop-off shredding service: This option allows older adults to conveniently bring their confidential documents to a nearby office. This option is ideal for those with smaller paper volumes.
  • Community shredding events: Another option for seniors is community shredding events. These events raise awareness about identity theft and fraud prevention strategies, as well as offer secure paper shredding for residents. Shred-it® frequently organizes shredding community events throughout North America, providing a safe and accessible way for seniors to dispose of their confidential documents.

Seniors should remain vigilant and implement preventive measures to help safeguard their personal information. Utilizing services like Shred-it® can help safeguard against identity theft.

Learn more about how Shred-it® can help protect seniors from identity theft with secure document destruction services.