Protect Loved Ones from Identity Theft Scams

No matter how protected you are, it can be a challenge to convince friends and family that identity theft scams are serious stuff

Every day, we learn about new identity theft scams. And since you visit this site, odds are you protected yourself. Taking on the task of convincing your friends and family about the serious nature identity theft really may prove a little trickier. Fortunately, here are some easy steps to take and help protect them as well.

1. Warn them of the possibility that identity thieves pretend to be them

Sometimes with small children, we suggest code words -- a secret phrase an adult can use to tell a child that yes, your parents really did send me to pick you up after school. A similar safeguard is useful in email. Tell friends and family members that if you ever email them with a request for information or money, you include a codeword known only to you. Make it something unlikely to come up in the course of a scammer's email.

2. Make sure they know about identity theft scams

Proof exists that the most vulnerable groups for any scams are children and the elderly. Children simply aren't suspicious enough to question, and elderly people often don't think anything of the sort could ever happen. Informing your children and parents or grandparents about some of the identity theft scams out there helps them remember not to give out personal information over the phone or over email.

3. Bring the topic up casually

If your parents don't want to hear a long-winded lecture about preventing identity theft anymore, try another approach. Instead of telling them what to do, try saying something like, "Wow, I'm glad I got my new Internet firewall up. Yesterday a friend of mine told me about a scam she almost fell for." Then go on to explain the details of one of the many Internet scams out there.

Here's the thing: people love stories that shock and appall. It will be considered perfectly normal for you to want to share the details of a shocking new scam. Do it a few times, and you might get through the message that identity theft scams are real, dangerous, and preventable -- and that's one of the greatest services you get to provide for your loved ones.

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