<p> When it comes to identity theft, senior citizens often make very attractive targets. For this reason, they should be particularly vigilant about protecting their identities.</p> <p> Thieves target retirees and seniors because they think older people have a lot of money, said Jack Tatar, author of the book &quot;Safe 4 Retirement: The Four Keys to a Safe Retirement&quot; (People Tested Books, 2011).</p> <p> &quot;There&#39;s the sense that they&#39;re retired, so they have some money laying around; they&#39;re not financially literate; they&#39;re more open to having conversations with people on the phones because they&#39;re lonely; and they might be more susceptible to various ploys,&quot; Tatar said.</p> <p> &quot;We&#39;ve all heard the stories of <a href="">bad guys calling seniors</a> claiming to be their nephews or grandchildren asking for money because they&#39;re in trouble.&quot;</p> <p> Tatar said senior citizens are often less technologically savvy than younger people, and are also more susceptible to <a href="">phishing emails</a> from cybercriminals trying to get their personal information.</p> <p> &quot;I do a lot of presentations and I try to get seniors together with their adult children to help out a little,&quot; he said. &quot;We ask their adult children to tell them what they know about going online [and what they should watch out for].</p> <p> &quot;But we ask them to share a lot of information with their parents about going online, and doing some things they might not otherwise do, that could help keep them safe.&quot;</p> <p> Tatar said safer practices include opting for direct bank deposits instead of receiving paper checks for Social Security benefits or other retirement benefits.</p> <p> Here are eight other tips to help seniors protect their identities.</p>

Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry.

<p> &quot;If seniors are falling for phone calls [including from telemarketers], what we&#39;re trying to encourage them to do if they do get a phone call is to say, &#39;I&#39;m on the <a href="" target="_blank">Do Not Call List</a>, you shouldn&#39;t be calling me,&#39;&quot; Tatar said. &quot;And, by law, [telemarketers] will have to hang right up.&quot;</p> <p> [<a href="">Feds Issue $50,000 Challenge to Terminate Robocalls</a>]</p>

Check out nursing-home facilities carefully.

<p> Adult children who are considering putting their parents into nursing homes should check with the appropriate regulatory body in their states to be sure there are no cases of employees stealing patients&#39; money, personal information or anything amiss at all, Tatar said.</p> <p> [<a href="">12 Ways to Make Burglars Avoid Your House</a>]</p>

Buy and use a shredder.

&quot;I&#39;ve told a lot of seniors to get a reliable shredder &mdash; not the really cheap ones &mdash; and put all of their stuff together that they want to have shredded and when their grandchildren come to visit, give them a couple bucks to do the shredding for them,&quot; Tatar said. &quot;That&#39;s a way for them to <a href="">get the stuff shredded</a> and make it a fun experience.&quot;</p>

Don&#39;t keep paper copies of checks or bank statements lying around the house.

<p> Use that shredder.</p> <p> &quot;Seniors have a mentality of holding on to the paper,&quot; Tatar said. &quot;They like to have the paper. But we have to get seniors over that.&quot;</p> <p> [<a href="">10 Tips for Staying Safe During Tax Season</a>]</p>

Use the mailbox on the corner.

<p> Mail any letters or other correspondence that contain <a href="">personally identifiable information</a>, such as Social Security numbers, bank-account or credit-card details, from U.S. Postal Service collection boxes.</p> <p> Tatar said seniors shouldn&#39;t use their own personal mailboxes to send mail. The bad guys can see those letters sticking out, or see that little red flag, and steal letters or credit-card bills &mdash; and with them the person&#39;s identity.</p>

Keep copies of important documents and cards.

<p> Seniors should keep copies of their credit cards and <a href="">Social Security cards</a>, as well as other important documents, in a location in their homes that&#39;s only known to themselves and to a family member or trusted friend.</p> <p> Don&#39;t keep such information out in the open for workmen or even visitors to see. If a credit card is stolen, seniors or their representatives will have the correct phone numbers at hand to cancel the cards, Tatar said.</p>

Keep an eye on gadgets.

<p> Pay close mind to cellphones, iPads or other gadgets that could contain personal information.</p> <p> A senior citizen relaxing at a neighborhood coffee shop might not even notice if someone walks by his or her table and helps himself to a cellphone.</p> <p> [<a href="">8 Hidden Smartphone Threats to Watch For</a>]</p>

Limit details in a loved one&#39;s obituary.

<p> Try to keep the deceased&#39;s address, occupation, birth date or mother&#39;s maiden name out of the obituary. Identity thieves <a href="">troll the death notices</a> of local newspapers looking for just such information to create new identities.</p> <p> [<a href="">5 Simple Steps to Help Prevent Identity Theft</a>]</p>

8 Ways Seniors Can Avoid Identity Theft