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Protect your financial future by thwarting identity theft now

6/15/2011, 9:34 a.m.
Protect your financial future by thwarting identity theft now

(ARA) - With a combination of good decisions and some luck, you've managed to build a tidy little nest egg for retirement. Having enough saved for retirement can help ensure your golden years are the best they can be. But what are you doing right now to protect the nest egg that's essential to your future financial well-being?

"Retirees are a favorite target for identity thieves," says Jennifer Leuer, general manager of Experian's ProtectMyID. "Seniors usually have more investments and cash reserves, and are less likely to check their credit regularly. Identity thieves target seniors in a number of ways, from phone scams in which they pose as a relative in need, to raiding 401(k) accounts."

Your nest egg doesn't have to be at risk from common types of identity theft. Be aware of the ways in which thieves can make use of your personal information, check your credit report regularly, and take these steps to thwart identity theft:

Monitor your credit

Your credit will be an important part of your financial health even after you retire. Just because you stop working doesn't mean it's safe to stop checking your credit report. Review your report regularly and consider enrolling in a protection product like ProtectMyID, which is designed to detect ID theft, protect against it and help resolve the situation if you're a victim while enrolled. It works by monitoring your credit daily, performing daily Internet scans for your personal information, and alerting you when key changes occur.

Watch over your 401(k)

Employer-administered retirement accounts are becoming increasingly popular targets for thieves, who can defraud these funds of millions of dollars. Always thoroughly read your 401(k) statements. If you only get a quarterly statement, ask for more frequent account summaries and review them with a financial professional. Review your account online regularly so that you can quickly detect any activity that doesn't look right. And once you retire, consider rolling your 401(k) into an IRA.

Take care of your Social Security

You probably protected your Social Security number throughout your professional life. Continue protective measures in retirement, including not carrying your Social Security card in your wallet, and being cautious about whom you give your SSN to. As a retiree, your SSN is particularly valuable to identity thieves, who can use it to pilfer your monthly Social Security payment, access your medical records or even falsify your tax return so that your refund goes to them instead of into your bank account.

Stay alert and educated

Identity thieves come up with new ways to scam people all the time. With seniors being a favorite target, it pays to keep abreast of the latest scams. Check online resources like IRS.gov, FTC.gov and IDtheftcenter.org, the website of the Identity Theft Resource Center, for updates on current identity theft scams.