Older people are often targets for robbery, purse-snatching, car theft, or a number of scams. During a crime, an older person is more likely to be seriously hurt. But, even though there are risks, don’t let the fear of crime stop you from enjoying life. Be careful and be aware of your surroundings. Here are some “do’s and don’ts” that can help you fight crime and stay safe.
Being Safe at Home
- Do make sure that your locks, doors, and windows are strong and cannot be broken easily. Make sure they are locked—both when you are in the house and when you’re away.
- Do make a list of your expensive belongings. You might even take pictures of the most valuable items. Store these papers in a safe place.
- Don’t open your door before you know who’s there. Look through the peephole or a window first.
- Don’t keep large amounts of money in the house.
- Do get to know neighbors. Consider a Neighborhood Watch Program.
Being Street Smart
- Do try to stay alert. Walk with a friend. Stay away from unsafe places like dark parking lots or alleys.
- Do keep your car doors locked at all times and park in well-lit areas.
- Don’t open your car door or roll down your window for strangers.
- Do carry your purse close to your body and across your chest.
- Don’t resist a robber. Hand over your cash right away if confronted.
Being Safe with Your Money
- Do have your monthly pension or Social Security direct-deposited.
- Don’t carry a lot of cash. Put your wallet and cash in an inside pocket.
- Don’t keep your check book and credit cards together. A thief could use the card to forge your signature.
Older people may be victims of frauds like con-games in areas such as home repair, insurance, telephone, or internet scams. Here are some tips:
- Don’t be afraid to hang up on telemarketers. You can decline an offer.
- Don’t give any personal information over the phone unless you were the one who made the call.
- Don’t be fooled by deals that seem too good to be true. They probably are. Beware of deals that ask for a lot of money up front and promise you more money later. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to get more information before doing business with them.
Avoiding Identity Theft
How can someone steal an identity? Use your name, Social Security, or credit card without your okay is called identity theft, and it’s a serious crime. Tips to protect yourself:
- Do keep information about your checking account private. Put all new and cancelled checks in a safe place, report any stolen checks right away, and carefully look at your monthly bank account statement.
- Do shred everything that has personal information written on it.
- Do be very careful when buying things online. Websites without security may not protect your credit card or bank account information. Look for information saying that a website has a secure server before buying anything online. (It will have https://, not http:// in front of it).
- Do check with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to learn to protect yourself from common online scams that can trick you into revealing your personal or financial information.
By National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Health