Protect Yourself from Crimes Against the Elderly

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Updated: March 4, 2014

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Unfortunately, the elderly are often victims of criminal acts.  For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that because criminals assume senior citizens have a monetary nest egg, they are often targeted in fraud schemes that result in their bank accounts being drained.  Additionally, due to the perception that older people are less able to defend themselves from an attacker, they are also frequently victims of robbery.  However, you should not live in fear simply because you are a senior citizen, as there are a variety of ways you can protect yourself against these targeted attacks.

The first place to ensure your safety is in the home.  It is a good idea to get to know your neighbors as the better they know you, the more likely they are to spot if something doesn’t look right with your house or yard.  Make sure that you keep your doors and windows locked at all times, even when you are at home.  If someone knocks on your door, use a peephole or window to see who is there before opening it, and remember that you do not have to open the door to a stranger if you are not comfortable doing so.

When you are outside of the home, stay alert to your surroundings at all times. Place your purse over your shoulder and across your chest, and hold it close to your body.  When in your car, make sure to keep the doors locked at all times, and do not roll down the window or open the door to a stranger.  Avoid dark streets and poorly lit parking lots.

Next, you should be very careful with your money.  Make sure any monthly checks you receive are directly deposited into your bank account.  Avoid having large amounts of cash in your home or carrying it with you.  Additionally, you should be extremely suspicious if anyone, either stranger or acquaintance, asks for your credit card number or bank account information, or tries to sell you an incredibly discounted item, such as life insurance or discounted prescription medicine.  There have been many recent cases of medical alert scams too.  If a deal seems too good then it probably is.

Finally, take steps to shield yourself against identity theft.  Invest in a paper shredder and shred any paperwork containing your social security, bank account, credit card, or Medicare numbers.  Never respond to an email asking for any of this information from you.  Make sure your computer is protected with a password, and you have the proper computer security software and hardware (aka firewalls) in place to prevent someone from gaining access (hacking) into your computer.  Do not keep your computer and email passwords written down in a place where they may be discovered.  With a little caution, you can keep yourself safe from criminal predators.