Protect Yourself From Financial Scams

Steve McDonald By Steve McDonald, Bond Strategist, The Oxford Club

Retirement Planning

Hospitals are notorious for collecting all kinds of personal information before they provide any services. So it was no surprise when a few days after a visit to the hospital, loan applications in my girlfriend Eileen’s name started popping up all over the internet.

Someone stole her identity and used it to borrow money via online payday loan companies.

Unfortunately, these kinds of situations are becoming more and more common.

If the numbers I am seeing about the frequency of identity theft and scams directed at people older than 50 are even close to accurate, there is a very good chance you will be a victim, too! If you haven’t been a victim already…

In fact, 36% of all identify theft victims are older than 50. That makes them the largest demographic of victims. And, believe me, it is a nightmare.

That’s why I have to share with you what Eileen and I learned from this experience: how to protect your personal information, and how to deal with it when, not if, but when this happens to you.

First (and most important), according to the police we spoke to, no one – not even your doctor or hospital – is entitled or required to have your Social Security number. In the past, insurance companies used SSNs to track your account, but that has all changed.

Best yet – and this is the advice we were given by the police – if anyone insists you provide this information, make it up. Have a phony SSN ready for them. Change a few numbers of your own number.

Next, never allow anyone to make a copy of your driver’s license. They can look at it to verify your identity, but make sure they don’t make a copy or write down the information.

Unbeknownst to us, your driver’s license number is a key piece of information that allows thieves to access your money.

And, unless you’re paying for a credit-tracking service, like LifeLock, don’t expect anyone to help you…


The nice police officer who filed the identity theft reports looked at us and said, “This identity theft thing, it’s not what we do, and I don’t know who can help you.” At that moment, the reality of the mess we were in came crashing down on me.

In fact, the bank that received $1,000 issued in Eileen’s name (from a loan company that doesn’t even check a person’s credit history) told us any information about where that money went is protected.

It didn’t matter that we had filed a police report or that we had proven the money was stolen.

Even after we told the bank it was a fraudulent application, we still weren’t allowed to access the information that was filed with Eileen’s name, SSN, driver’s license number and date of birth.

The thieves have more identity protection than we do.

We discovered something else that is essential to protecting yourself after something like this happens… You have to file a police report for every attempted and successful application filed. Whether any money was stolen or not, you have to fax copies of the police reports to everyone the thieves contacted.

If you contact anyone to inform them of the fraud, but don’t fax a police report, you can be on the hook for that money.

Finally, get a credit-monitoring service that does more than lock up your credit report. As I said, there are online payday lenders that don’t even check an applicant’s credit history. And the thieves know which ones to contact.

If not for LifeLock, I’m certain this would have resulted in our credit rating being destroyed and a monetary loss. It performed exactly as promised and literally stopped the thieves in their tracks.

I don’t care which credit-tracking service you use, get one. You can’t afford to not have it. Without ours, the thieves would have had unlimited access to loans, credit cards… you name it.

Retired people are the favorite target of the scumbags of the digital world. We have too much personal information on the internet and give out vital information more than anyone else.

Stop making it easy for the thieves. Protect your personal information, get it off the internet, and get a credit-tracking service.

Good investing,

Steve