Statistics show that the older you get, the less likely you are to be a victim of crime. But it still makes sense to take precautions, especially against fraud and con games, which are the greatest crime threats for seniors.
Safety Begins at Home
- Install and use good locks on doors and windows.
- Don’t hide keys under the doormat, in the mailbox or in a planter. Leave an extra set with a neighbor.
- When service or delivery people come to your door, ask for ID, and check with their company if you’re still not sure.
- Make sure the street number on your house is large, well-lighted and unobstructed so emergency personnel can find your home quickly.
- If you decide to install an alarm system, consider one that is monitored for burglary, fire and medical emergencies.
Stay Safe When You Go Out
- Go out with family or friends rather than by yourself.
- Hold your purse close or keep your wallet in an inside front pocket.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash or unneeded credit cards.
- Use a direct deposit service for Social Security and other regular checks.
- Keep car doors locked, be watchful in parking lots and garages, and try to park in well-lighted spots near entrances.
- Sit near the driver or the exit when riding on a bus, train or subway.
- If a person or situation makes you nervous, get away.
Don’t Fall for Con Artists’ Tricks
- If it sounds too good to be true — free vacation, miracle cure, sure-fire investment — avoid it.
- It is illegal for telemarketers to ask for credit card, Social Security, phone card or bank account numbers to verify prizes, so if anyone asks, don’t give it to them.
- If someone tries to rush you into signing an insurance policy, sales contract or anything else, be suspicious. Read it carefully and have a trusted friend check it, too.
- Some con artists pose as representatives of companies or government agencies that, for a fee, recover money lost to fraudulent telemarketers. Don’t fall for this trick.
- When in doubt, check it out by calling the police, the Better Business Bureau, the local consumer protection office, or the National Consumers League Fraud Information Center at 800-876-7060.
Things You Can Do in Your Community
- Report any crimes or suspicious activities to police.
- Join a Neighborhood Watch program to help protect your community.
- Get involved in activities that can make your community a better place, like mentoring children, serving as a volunteer aide for the police or fire department, or escorting disabled persons.
- Check for a Triad program in your community. It partners seniors with law enforcement agencies to prevent crime against the elderly and to give support to law enforcement personnel. It is sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriffs Association (NSA). Get details from your AARP chapter, local police or by calling NSA at 703-836-7827.