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If you're in your 50s, you probably have a well-established financial identity and you probably use more medical services than you did when you were younger. Those traits can make you a prime target of identity thieves.
People who are 25-to-64 years old have the highest incidence of identity theft compared with younger and older age groups, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice. But, generally 50-somethings have more, and more valuable, data to steal than younger generations.
Fraudulent use of your financial identity can cost you time, money and career opportunities.
To protect yourself, you'll have to "make a conscious choice about how much security you're willing to give up for convenience," says Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego.
With that in mind, here are 3 ID-theft tips for 50-somethings:
Secure your documents
People in their 50s often have accumulated decades of old bank statements and tax returns, which can prove a gold mine for identity thieves.
If people you don't know well enter your home, and potentially when you're not present, you should be extra careful to secure your personal information.
Trusted contractors, caregivers or even your teenaged children's friends could be professional burglars or impulsive crime-of-opportunity thieves.
"Keep paper documents in a locked filing cabinet that's too heavy to move out of the house easily," Velasquez says.
Keep your delivered mail locked up or out of sight as well.
Monitor your accounts
Many 50-somethings travel frequently or take extended vacations. When you're away, you should be vigilant about checking your financial accounts.
Shirley Inscoe, senior analyst with Aite Group, a financial sector research and analysis company in Boston, says consumers should sign into their accounts often and look at their activity online rather than wait for monthly statements to arrive via mail.