As people grow older, their chance of being victims of crime decreases dramatically. But a lifetime of experience coupled with the physical problems associated with aging often make older Americans fearful. Though they're on the lookout constantly for physical attack and burglary, they are not as alert to frauds and con games - in reality the greatest crime threat to seniors' well being and trust.
Trust your good judgement. Common sense is the best defense.
- Don't give personal or financial information over the phone.
- Hang up on nuisance callers and report them.
- Don't fall for anything that sounds too good to be true - a free vacation, sweepstakes prizes, cures for cancer and arthritis, a low-risk, high-yield investment scheme.
- Beware of individuals claiming to represent companies, consumer organizations, or government agencies that offer to recover lost money from fraudulent telemarketers for a fee.
- Have your social security or pension check deposited directly into your account.
- Keep money and securities in a bank.
- Mark all valuables with an ID number.
- Have neighbors watch each others homes and form security patrols.
- Do laundry, shopping or errands in groups.
- When crossing the streets, even in a crosswalk never assume the driver will see you or be able to stop in time.
- Don't carry credit cards you don't need or large amounts of cash.
- Whether you're a passenger or driver, keep car doors locked. Be particularly alert in parking lots and garages. Park near an entrance.
- If someone or something makes you uneasy, trust your instincts and leave.
- Have your key out and ready.
- Have the driver watch until you are inside.
- Don't enter an elevator alone with a stranger.
- Install and use a peephole. Never open your door to strangers.
- Keep doors and windows locked.
- Report any crime or suspicious activities to the police.
- Form a neighborhood watch to look out for each other and help the police.
- Work to change conditions that hurt your neighborhood. Volunteer as a citizen patroller, tutor for children, mentor for teens, escort for individuals with disabilities.