Wednesday, March 28, 2007

ID Theft is Scary to the Retired

I realize that as we age, changes in the mind and body can result in the reduction of courage and the enhancement of some fears. But I have to tell you that after a recent conversation with a fellow retired person, the two of us had nearly scare ourselves silly!

He had gotten an email from his brother about how messed up his son's (Paul's nephew) life had become since his identity had been stolen. Apparently someone had gotten enough of the nephew's personal information to successfully complete a pre-approved credit card application retrieved from the dumpster at his complex. The nephew currently believes it was someone working in tandem with a person who gained access to his personnel file at a former employer.

We got to speculating about various ways we had run across recently that illustrated how people leave themselves open to identity theft. At our Credit Union ATM there are routinely withdrawal receipts on the floor. At gas pumps, people leave their receipt in or around the pump. It would seem that the annoying reminder beep would help but many older and retired persons do not hear sounds in that range. In our retirement community they still deliver to the mailbox on your house and a number of homes have an unlocked decorative mailbox 20 ft from the curb. A retired acquaintance left her sunroof open in a hospital parking lot and someone just reached in and took the garage door opener and car registration that were clipped to the visor. With the address on the registration and the opener, her house was robbed of not only identity rich materials but valuable jewelry before she got home from the hospital. When crows tore open a neighbors garbage bags, some of what ended up in the street included checks for balance transfer and cash advances from one of her credit cards. Until a couple of years ago, I used to sort my mail at the garbage can and throw those kinds of offers in the can unopened!

By the time we finished our walk we felt like there was a bogey man behind every tree and we had both taken a pledge to religiously use our shredder! Do you have an identity theft experience or a good tip on how to protect us from identity theft? Leave us a comment to share.

Take care of yourself and your identity.

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