On average, nearly 20 people become victims of identity theft each minute. In 2016, Lee County Sherriff’s Office received more fraud complaints than any other state in the country. They attribute this to the older demographic that resides in the Southwest Florida areas. Because seniors ages 60 and older are at higher risk of falling victim to scams and frauds, it comes as no surprise that the retired, Southwest Florida population is the ideal candidate for criminals.
Here are five helpful ways to protect yourself.
- Understand the threats. It’s important to know that scam artists use several different approaches, including impersonation, advance and urgent fee alerts, and phishing schemes. Most fraudsters contact their victims by phone or email, in addition to sending mail or engaging in person. Starting screening your calls, if the number is unfamiliar, let them leave a message. If the email looks strange, do not open it.
- Exercise Caution. Always be aware of your surroundings. If you notice anything suspicious, report it the authorities immediately. Do not conduct important business over publicly used Wi-Fi or hotspots.
- Secure your information. Documents with personal information should be shredded or stored in a secure location. Cut up old credit cards (or even the new ones offered in the mail).
- Protect your valuables. Keep jewelry, cash, credit cards, checkbooks, and other expensive valuables in a safe or safety deposit box. Ideally this safe place would require a key or pin code. If you don’t use these items or wear jewelry frequently, consider giving the items to a trustworthy family member for safekeeping.
- Monitor bank accounts closely. Continually monitor and review your bank statements and accounts. Consider using a low-limit credit card instead of a debit card whenever possible.
For additional information on how to keep your valuables safe, visit https://www.stopfraud.gov/. Or, learn how to secure your tomorrows today with retirement at Shell Point by visiting www.shellpoint.org.