Since news of the massive Equifax data breach came out, we at Komando.com have been keeping you informed on how to handle the troubling situation. As you know, nearly 143 million Americans were impacted by the breach.
It's extremely important that you take steps to ensure your personal data is secure, click here to learn what to do. However, there are some critical extra steps that retirees need to take that you really need to know about.
Setting up a credit freeze on your accounts
Those impacted by the Equifax data breach should be setting up a credit freeze on their accounts. A credit freeze allows you to restrict access to your credit reports and scores provided by the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and yes, Equifax). Locking up your credit reports will prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts under your name even when they have managed to steal your personal information.
Setting up a credit freeze might sound difficult, but we promise it's not. In fact, we've written an entire tip about it with step-by-step instructions. If you believe your private information has been compromised by this or one of the many past data breaches, then you need to take our advice to protect your finances.
--> Click here and we'll show you how to set up a credit freeze and protect your identity! This is very important.
As we said earlier, retirees need to take some additional steps to protect their life savings. Keep reading to learn what to do.
What additional steps should retirees take?
Safeguard your Medicare number
Retirees enrolled in Medicare need to safeguard their card number. If you are enrolled in Medicare, you know that the number on your Medicare card is also your Social Security number. This will change sometime next year as Medicare will stop using Social Security numbers as its identifiers.
Medical identity theft doesn't just threaten your financial life, it also puts your health at risk. If someone steals your medical identity, you could end up receiving the wrong blood type during an emergency transfusion. Keep your Medicare card in a secure location and do not share your number with anyone who doesn't actually need it, like your doctor.
Withhold your Social Security number from medical providers
Giving out your Social Security number is risky business. As we found out with Equifax, data breaches can happen anywhere, anytime. That's why it's so important to keep your Social Security number secure.
Most doctors and medical facilities ask you to give them your Social Security number before being treated. But do they really need it? The short answer is no.
When filling out forms, tell your provider you're not comfortable with giving out your Social Security number. They should be able to accept a different form of identification.
Keep an eye on your Social Security benefits
As a retiree, you're most likely receiving Social Security benefits. If so, you really need to monitor your payments carefully. If someone steals your identity they could contact the Social Security Administration to make changes to your account.
They could have your check sent to a different address or have it deposited into another bank account. Keep an eye on your Social Security benefits to ensure you are getting them each month. If you stop receiving payments or see any suspicious activity, contact the Social Security Administration by clicking here.
Take these additional steps to protect your life savings. Don't forget to share this article with friends and family so they can also stay protected.