WASHINGTON—AARP released a new report today exploring the impact of identity fraud on U.S. adults aged 55+ and how technology may play a role in consumers’ ability to protect themselves from financial harm. The report, “Identity Fraud in Three Acts,” developed by Javelin Strategy & Research and sponsored by AARP, shows that 26% of Americans aged 55+ have been victims of identity fraud. However, more are taking additional precautions to prevent losses of personal information: 29% have placed credit freezes on their credit bureau information following an identity theft incident, and more than half have enrolled in identity protection or credit monitoring services.
“Older Americans are leading more digitally infused lives, with two-thirds using online banking weekly, so it’s encouraging to see that many are taking proactive steps to protect their identity following a data breach,” said Kathy Stokes, Director of AARP Fraud Prevention Programs. “Passwords still represent a security threat, however; using repeated passwords across multiple online accounts makes it easy for criminals to crack one of them so that all of your accounts – including financial accounts – become accessible.”
According to the report, consumers 55+ want to bank using stronger security authentication. Roughly 90% state a desire to use more fingerprint scanning, and 80% view facial recognition capabilities as trustworthy forms of technology for financial transactions and private business matters. The report also shows identity fraud victims age 65+ do not necessarily change how they shop, bank or pay following a fraudulent event, with 70% exhibiting reluctance to change familiar habits.
“Criminals are regularly targeting Americans aged 55+ through a combination of sophisticated scams via computer malware and also through more traditional low-tech channels via telephone and U.S. mail,” shared the report’s author, John Buzzard, Lead Analyst, Fraud and Security at Javelin. “The combination of high-tech and low-tech strategies unfortunately gives the upper hand to the criminal — not the consumer.”
The report offers several tips on protecting against identity fraud, including:
- Hang up on strangers, and independently verify everything.
- Adopt security practices that go beyond a single password. Start using a password manager tool or app to create and safely store complex passwords.
- Write down important numbers of companies you do business with rather than rely on a web search for a customer service number, as criminals post fake numbers online.
- Secure your devices – mobile phone, laptops and tablets – with a complex password, preferably with screen locks that use a fingerprint or facial recognition.
- Secure personal payments with digital wallets.
View the full report here. Additionally, watch the on-demand Identity Fraud in Three Acts webinar with experts, Kathy Stokes, Director, Fraud Prevention Programs, AARP and John Buzzard, Fraud & Security Analyst, Javelin Strategy & Research. To learn more about AARP’s fraud prevention programs, visit aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network launched in 2013 as a free resource for people of all ages. Consumers may sign up for “Watchdog Alert” by email or text that deliver information about scams, or call a free helpline at 877-908-3360 to report scams or get help from trained volunteers in the event someone falls victim to scammers’ tactics. The Fraud Watch Network website provides information about fraud and scams, prevention tips from experts, an interactive scam-tracking map and access to AARP’s hit podcast series, The Perfect Scam.
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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.