- Buy a cross cut shredder and use it to shred all mail. Never throw unshredded mail in any trash.
- Sign up for direct deposit especially for your Social Security, Federal Tax Returns or other benefits which stops criminals from stealing and forging your checks.
- Carry only what credit cards you intend to use that day. Cancel any credit cards you don't use.
- Carry medical cards with Social Security numbers only at time of medical services, to limit potential identity theft exposure.
- Do not give out any personal information to anyone you do not know will use it correctly, especially by phone or email. If necessary, call the inquirer back at a safe and published telephone number such as one located on the back of the credit card or in a telephone book.
- Opt out of prescreened offers: Optoutprescreen.com
- Check credit reports regularly. Annualcreditreport.com
If you become a victim:
- File a report with law enforcement.
- Notify the fraud department of the bank or company who issued the credit card or account.
- Place a fraud alert and request a copy of your credit files, so they have to verify any credit application. Call or click on any of these credit reporter’s links.
Click her to notify the Federal Trade Commission and download to “Fighting Back” a publication to assist you in securing your identity again.
Stay up to date with the latest Internet Crime Information: Check out the joint FBI, National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Joint Internet Complaint Center: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
Financial Crimes against seniors include: Fraud, Identity Theft, Scams and Healthcare Fraud.
Seniors make up 37% of all fraud victims nationwide.
Guard yourself against these crimes:
- Bank and pay bills online. Monitor all assets frequently.
Seniors are frequently targeted going to and from the bank and post office.
- Sign up for direct deposit of income and Social Security benefits.
- Use a mailbox with a lock on it. Don’t risk it; shred mail.
- Opt out of prescreen offers: Optoutprescreen.com
- Carry Medicare cards only at time of receiving medical services.
- Consider a “credit freeze or fraud alert” on credit files as a precautionary measure.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited contests or award mailers.
- Stay aware of scams and fraud schemes. FBI Senior Scams
- Never sign a contract without reviewing it with someone you trust first.
If someone makes an offer that seems too good to be true…Assume, it is too good to be true!
Sheriff Partners with U.S. Treasury Campaigns to reduce
ID Theft and Fraud for Seniors
Identity Theft and fraud are growing concerns for seniors and others in Santa Barbara County. To combat the trend, The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is partnering with the U.S. Treasury and local financial institutions to reduce financial crime by encouraging seniors and others to have benefits deposited directly in their bank accounts through “Go Direct.”
It’s estimated that 60 thousand Federal benefit checks amounting to nearly 160 million dollars were fraudulently endorsed nationwide in 2007. Direct deposit of benefits checks will remove these checks from our mail system and reduce one source for financial crime, identity theft and mail theft. Those who don’t have a bank account can sign up for a “Direct Express” debit card. Please see a participating bank representative, or, sign up for direct deposit of your federal benefits at the link below.