As people grow older, their chances of being victims of crime decrease
dramatically. But a lifetime of experience coupled with the physical problems
associated with aging often make older Americans fearful and trapped in
their own homes. Though they're on the lookout constantly for physical
attack and burglary, they're not as alert to frauds and con games —
in reality, the greatest crime threat to seniors' well being and trust.
Want to conquer fear and prevent crime? Take these common-sense
Be Alert When Out and About
- Go with friends or family, not alone.
- Carry your purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps.
Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
- Don't carry credit cards you don't need or large
amounts of cash.
- Use direct deposit for Social Security and other regular checks.
- Keep car doors locked, whether you're a passenger or
driver. Be particularly alert in parking lots and garages. Park
near an entrance.
- Sit close to the driver or near the exit while riding the bus,
train, or subway.
- If someone or something makes you uneasy, trust your instincts
Make Your Home Safe and Secure
- Install good locks on doors and windows and use them. Don't
hide keys in mailboxes and planters or under doormats. Instead,
leave an extra set of keys with a neighbor or friend.
- Ask for photo identification from service or delivery people
before letting them in the door. If you are the least bit worried,
call the company to verify.
- Be sure your street address number is large, clear of obstruction,
and well-lighted so police and other emergency personnel can find
your home quickly.
- Consider a home alarm system that provides emergency monitoring
for burglary, fire, and medical emergencies.
Watch Out for Con Artists
- 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.
- Never give your credit card, phone card, Social Security, or
bank account number to anyone over the phone. It's illegal
for telemarketers to ask for these numbers to verify a prize or
- Don't let anyone rush you into signing anything — an
insurance policy, a sales agreement, a contract. Read it carefully
and have someone you trust check it over.
- Beware of individuals claiming to represent companies, consumer
organizations, or government agencies that offer to recover lost
money from fraudulent telemarketers for a fee.
- If you're suspicious, check it out with the police, the
Better Business Bureau, or your local consumer protection office.You
can also call the National Consumers League Fraud Information
Center at 800-876-7060.
Get Involved in the Community
- Report any crime or suspicious activities to law enforcement.
- Join a Neighborhood Watch to look out for each other and help
- Work to help improve your neighborhood. Volunteer as a citizen
patroller, tutor for children, office aide in the police or fire
department, mentor for teens, or escort for individuals with disabilities.
- Does your community have a Triad program? It's sponsored on a national
level by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the International
Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and the National Sheriffs' Association.
Triad promotes partnerships between senior citizens and the law enforcement
community, both to prevent crime against the elderly and to help law
enforcement benefit from the talents of older people. If you're interested,
contact your chief of police, sheriff, or AARP chapter, or call Triad
at NSA at 800-424-7827.
Return to Crime Prevention Tips
Crime Prevention Tips Provided by:
National Crime Prevention Council
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