It’s not a secret that seniors are often targets of telemarketing scams and other crimes. Sadly, the culprits that prey on this group are well aware of several facts that make them an easier target than others. For instance, seniors are more likely to live alone, to live in high crime neighborhoods, and to rely on walking and public transportation. They are generally less able to defend themselves because of diminished strength or physical ailments; and dates of the receipt of pensions and other benefit checks are widely known.
It is a very sad and unfortunate state that our country preys on its elders, but there are steps you can take to help protect yourself. Read below for a list of ways that you can be proactive and help ensure your own safety. These are recommendations from law enforcement and government agencies that deal with these types of crimes every day.
Let’s start with one of the most common incidents – telemarketing scams. According to the Consumer Law Center, Inc. (CLC), Americans lose an estimated $40 billion each year to the fraudulent sale of goods and services over the telephone. The elderly are frequent targets of telemarketing and sweepstakes scams. These telemarketing scams are common because the calls are easy to accomplish and provides anonymity for the culprits running the scams. The good news is that you can take actions to help prevent this from happening to you. See below for a list of reminders that are extremely important to follow:
Watch Out for Con Artists
- Don’t fall for anything that sounds too good to be true
- Never give your Social Security number or bank account information to anyone over the phone
- Don’t disclose the names of any family members or their places of employment
- Take your time. Scammers often try to create false deadlines. If you feel pressured to make a decision, hang up.
- Don’t sign any legal documents without having someone you trust check it over
Of course telemarketing isn’t the only way that seniors are targeted. It’s important to always be alert when out and about as well as taking appropriate steps to safeguard yourself at home.
Be Alert When Out and About
- Go with friends or family, not alone
- Carry your purse close to your body
- 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 your car doors locked
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings in parking lots
- Have your keys ready when approaching your car
- Sit close to the driver or near the exit when riding the bus, train or subway
Safe at Home
- Keep your doors and windows locked
- Never open the door without looking through the peephole to see who it is
- Don’t hide keys outside your house, leave them with a neighbor when necessary
- Ask for photo identification for service or delivery people. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t let them in
- Put indoor lamps on timers to turn on automatically at night
- Keep your garage door closed
- Stop your newspaper and mail when you’re out of town
- Consider a home security system