Crime Prevention Tips for
is worried. She's lived in the same neighborhood for 50 years, but things
seem to be changing. Last week, her friend Rose was walking to the store
when a young man ran by and pulled her purse right off her shoulder. Two
weeks ago, Joe, the man upstairs, put his grocery bags on the curb while
waiting for the bus, and before he knew it, someone had picked up his bags
and run off. Lucy feels sad to think she might have to move. She wonders, is
anywhere safe for older people anymore?
people and their families worry about crime. Though they are less likely to
be victims of crime than young people, the number of crimes that happen to
older people is hard to ignore. Older people are often targets for robbery,
purse snatching, pick-pocketing, car theft, or home repair scams, and during
a crime, an older person is more likely to be seriously hurt than someone
who is younger.
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
things that you can do to avoid crime and stay safe.
Be Safe at Home
make sure that your locks, doors, and windows are strong and cannot be
broken easily. A good alarm system can help.
your doors and windows locked—when you are in the house and when you're
through the peephole or a window before you open your door. Ask any stranger
for identification before you open the door. Remember, you don't have to
open the door if you feel uneasy.
keeping large amounts of money in the house.
know your neighbors. Join a Neighborhood Watch Program if your community has
Be Street Smart
alert when you are out. Walk with a friend. Try to avoid unsafe places like
dark streets or parking lots. Keep your car doors locked at all times.
open your car door or roll down your window for strangers.
in well-lit areas.
your purse close to your body with the strap over your shoulder and across
resist a robber. Hand over your cash or anything else that the robber
demands right away if confronted.
Be Safe With Your Money
your monthly pension or Social Security checks sent right to the bank for
direct deposit. Try not to go to the bank at the same time each week.
your wallet, money, or credit cards in an inside pocket. Try not to carry a
lot of cash.
your checkbook and credit cards in different places. That makes it harder
for a thief to forge your signature on checks.
people may be victims of frauds like con games and insurance, home repair,
telephone, or Internet scams. Even "trusted" friends or family members have
been known to steal an older person's money or property. The following tips
can say no to any telephone sales pitch. You can hang up on telephone
salespeople. That's not being rude—that's taking care of you!
give your credit card or bank account numbers to people who call you, even
if they say they are from the bank.
stranger tells you to take money out of your bank account, don't do it. In
one common swindle, a thief pretends to be a bank employee and asks you to
take out money to "test" a bank teller. Banks do not check their employees
that seem too good to be true are often rip-offs. Beware if you are asked to
give someone a lot of money with the promise you will get more money later.
Check with your local Better Business Bureau for more information about the
record of any company before you do business with them.
guard about hiring people who come door-to-door looking for home repair
work. They may not be trained to do the work. They may overcharge you. Try
to get referrals for home repairs from friends and family. Always be very
clear about the details of the work you want done. Never pay for the whole
job in advance.
Avoid Identity Theft
someone uses your name, Social Security number, or credit card without your
permission, it's a crime. It's called identity theft.
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.
or tear up everything that has personal information about you on it.
Internet can give online scammers, hackers, and identity thieves access to
your computer, personal information, and finances. You can reduce the chance
of a crime by following these tips:
respond to emails asking for personal information like the numbers of your
credit card or bank account.
very careful when buying things online. Look for an address and phone number
and call the number to see if it works. Only use websites of companies you
anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Keep your computer protection
firewall on your computer can help protect you from getting unwanted
requests. If you need help, ask someone who knows about computers to guide
sure your computer is protected with a password. Keep your passwords in a
safe place. Don't share them on the Internet, over email, or on the phone.
any identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or
Elder Abuse—It's A Crime
hard to believe, but elder abuse can happen anywhere. It can take place at
home by family or friends or in a nursing home by professional caregivers.
Some people don't think of elder abuse as a crime, but it is. Abuse can take
many forms such as physical harm, financial loss, sexual abuse, or neglect
by someone you trust. Verbal threats or rude words are another form of elder
abuse. If someone you know is being abused, or if you need help, remember:
can help yourself and others by reporting the crimes when they happen.
Reporting abuse is a moral as well as a legal responsibility in most States.
Contact your local or State Adult Protective Services programs for help.
have been hurt, go to a doctor as soon as possible. Even though you may not
see anything wrong, there is always the possibility you've been injured.
needed, a lawyer can assist you in any legal action that needs to be taken.
For More Information
are some helpful resources:
601 E Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20049
Administration on Aging
Washington, DC 20201
American Bar Association
321 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60654-7598
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Look for the booklet ID Theft: What's It All About
National Center on Elder Abuse
c/o Center for Community Research and Services
University of Delaware
297 Graham Hall
Newark, DE 19716
National Domestic Violence Hotline
24 hours/day, 365 days/year
National Organization for Victim Assistance
510 King Street, Suite 424
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
1-800-879-6682 (24-hour hotline/toll-free)
Council of Better Business Bureaus
4200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 800
Arlington, VA 22203-1838
more information on health and aging, contact:
National Institute on Aging
P.O. Box 8057
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057
sign up for regular email alerts about new publications and other
information from the NIA, go to www.nia.nih.gov/health .
NIHSeniorHealth (www.nihseniorhealth.gov ),
a senior-friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the
National Library of Medicine. This website has health information for older
adults. Special features make it simple to use. For example, you can click
on a button to have the text read out loud or to make the type larger.
National Institute on Aging
National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services