Contrary to popular belief, a person aged over 65 is less likely to be victim of physical or more ‘traditional’ crimes than someone younger.
In this day and age, technology keeps changing and it is difficult for most people to keep up. If you are not sure what details you should share online, speak to someone you trust to get advice. Unless you are confident with a website and know that it is secure, you shouldn’t provide your personal details, especially not credit card, bank details or address.
The Victoria Police Crime Prevention and Community website has useful information about how to protect yourself from identify theft and online fraud. If you think that your personal information has been stolen or misused in any way, contact the police for assistance.
Victoria Police Safer Communities Unit,
Inspector Zorka Dunstan
Older people generally have safer lifestyles. They are more likely to take safety precautions and tend to spend less time out and about at night when the crime risk is higher.
However, older people may be more susceptible to cyber crime such as identity theft which occurs when someone steals and uses personal information, or assumes a pre-existing identity – even that of a deceased person.
Having your identity stolen can be devastating.
Offenders steal credit cards, drivers licences, utility bills, bank and credit card statements, and any other documents containing personal information.
These stolen identity documents can be used to open and operate fictitious bank accounts in your name, or to access funds in your existing bank accounts.
How to protect yourself
Identity theft can happen in many ways.
Personal information is shared almost every day as you pay bills, log on to a computer, or engage with other people and organisations.
You can take an active role to reduce the risk of your identity being used without your knowledge. It just needs a little planning.
First, you need to recognise where you might be vulnerable, and then make changes to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.
Criminals are less likely to see you as a target if you are careful, alert and living confidently in the community. Get involved with your neighbours and the local community, try to keep up to date with what is going on in the world and don’t isolate yourself.
Some helpful hints
- If you are contacted by phone or email by someone or an organisation you don’t know, provide a minimum amount of information about yourself.
- Destroy identifying information when you are throwing out personal papers.
- Conduct regular checks/reconciliations of your billing and account records (credit card, cheque and mortgage accounts).
- Place passwords on all your important accounts. Avoid using obvious passwords.
- Secure your personal information at home, and don’t send original proof of identity documents in the mail.
- Collect new cheque books or credit cards in person from the bank.
- Secure your mail with a lockable letterbox and only post mail at official post boxes.
- Remove your name from mailing lists if you receive unsolicited mail.
- Write cheques and fill out forms carefully so that they cannot be altered easily.