Buchanan- A few days ago the movie Identity Theft opened in theaters across America earning the the title of top grossing picture for the weekend of release generating lots of laughs for the audience. The movie allows the audience to travel with a fictional victim of ID theft on a road trip designed to restore his good name and credit. But as the real victims of identity theft know the ease that skilled thieves gain access to private information and the damage they do is more horror movie than comedy. According to Haralson County Sheriff Eddie Mixon, “The movie is funny but the crime of ID theft is no laughing matter, scammers work 24/7 perfecting methods to steal. Just last year, an alert Haralson County senior resident may have narrowly missed becoming a victim of a scam.” Mixon reported that a resident received a phone call from a male who was calling from a 1-800 number and indicted that he was calling to “shut down her account as had been requested.” The unidentified caller then asked the resident for her bank account number so he could close the account. Fortunately, the resident quickly terminated the call quickly by saying, “I am not giving you any information, and I am reporting this call to the Sheriff.” Eddie Mixon said, “Seniors are all too often an ID thief’s favorite target because they have safe guarded their credit scores throughout their life. We’re hoping to empower seniors in our community by getting out information vital to prevent this crime.” Given that baby boomers, often with discretionary income, become seniors at the rate of one every few seconds, seniors will be the largest percentage of the population in a very short time. Experts say that part of the reason older adults tend to be victims is that they come from a more trusting and gracious generation. Often in spite of how annoying or frightening solicitation phone calls may be, senior citizens still find it very hard to hang up on anyone. Here are some practical tips for safeguarding yourself – offered by the Sheriff’s Office.
BE SAFE SENIORS
- Use common home safety such as locking your doors, shutting and locking your windows, never leave notes on your door when going out, do not leave spare keys hidden outside, and leave lights on when out at night.
- Never allow a stranger to come into your home. If they want to use the telephone, only offer to place the call for them.
- Do not give out any information over the phone. Make sure you do not tell anyone that you are alone or if you will be out of your house.
- Avoid going out at night alone. Try to have a companion with you.
- Do not carry large amounts of cash with you and be sure you never display a large amount of cash in public.
- Use direct deposit for government checks. Many criminals know when government checks are mailed out and will target seniors at those times.
The Office of the Sheriff’s Crime Prevention Unit offers a wide range of information and programs for residents of all ages. You can learn more by contacting Jim Beck at 770-375-5838.