Crime and the Elderly-Home Security and Financial Advice for Senior Citizens

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Crime and the Elderly-Home Security and Financial Advice for Senior Citizens

If you’re in your senior years, you understand the importance of planning ahead in terms of your financial future and your health. But like many other senior citizens, you may not have given much thought about the increased risk of crime that is targeted against the elderly. The following is some important home security and financial advice by security expert and senior citizen advocate, Jordan Frankel, that can help keep you protected against these heartless crimes.

Financial Crimes Against Senior Citizens

According to the National Council on Aging, approximately 1 in 10 senior citizens aged 60+ have been victimized by some form of elder abuse. 

Though there are no statistics on the occurrence of financial crimes against the elderly, a study by MetLife Mature Market Institute estimates the financial loss to senior citizens victimized by financial scams is over $2.9 billion per year. In a study by the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging in 2000, over $40 billion was reported to be stolen from the elderly through financial scams involving telemarketers.

The clever schemes of criminals can make detecting a financial scam quite challenging. From professional-looking business cards and marketing materials to fake uniforms and IDs, some crooks go the extra mile to disguise their criminal intensions as legitimate transactions.

Popular Senior Citizen Phone Scams

There are numerous phone scams targeted against innocent senior citizens. One such scam involves a representative of a company that claims they are required to reimburse their customers a certain amount of money as a result of a class action suit. All that is needed to credit the reimbursement is the unsuspecting victim’s credit card information. Those who comply often receive a second call in which they are asked for an additional credit card information due to the first one not working. 

The reality of this situation is the senior citizen is being scammed out of their credit card information. Such callers often use the information to make purchases of their own or sell the information to someone else. Often times these scammers live in foreign countries, which makes it near impossible to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrator.

Other common phone scams against senior citizens involve money owed to the IRS, Social Security transactions, and fake overdue payments.

Dishonest Contractors and Senior Citizens

Another potential risk senior citizens have to worry about is being overcharged by dishonest contractors. This is common among contracts who lack integrity and who prey on the cognitive impairments of some senior citizens. It is not until the victim discusses the matter with family or friends that they realize they were scammed. Such situations can be challenging to resolve because it is next to impossible to get one’s money back if the person agreed to the contractor’s rate for the services. 

Consumer Protection Advice for Senior Citizens

Fortunately, there is something you can do to decrease your risk of being victimized by a financial scam. The following are some safe consumer habits to follow: 

  • Request a copy of the contractor’s license and verify their credentials through your state’s licensing agency and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). You can also check Yelp and other sources for reviews from previous customers. 
  • Be cautious of salespeople who show up at your door asking for your business or charity donations, as it is a common scam among various cities. Though the charity might be real, the solicitor may not a fake. The person can also be a criminal scoping out your house. Don’t take any chances! NEVER answer the door to a stranger. Keep your door locked and either ignore the person or ask the person to leave. If they persist, call 911. To ensure a thug doesn’t bust down your door, have a security door brace installed. This simple yet highly effective device can withstand over 1700 pounds of force and is specifically designed to prevent home invasions.
  • If you are not sure how much a particular service costs, do your homework and research the service before agreeing to any terms. Friends, family, quotes from competitors, and the Internet are all excellent sources of information that can help you in your decision. 

 

  • NEVER give someone you don’t know your credit card information or any other financial information for that matter. If you receive a phone call or email from someone asking for an account number, password, or banking or credit card information, assume it is a scam and ignore it. 

Harassment and Abuse of the Elderly

Senior citizens are also at risk of being harassed or abused as they grow older. This is especially true for seniors with cognitive impairments and physical disabilities who have to depend on family and other caregivers to meet their needs. Unfortunately, not every person is kind and compassionate. Some look for ways to take advantage of elderly members who are frail.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel a neighbor or family member is taking advantage of you, threatening you, or causing you harm in any way, report it to the police immediately. Be sure to provide whatever evidence you have and insist action is taken to put a stop to the behavior. If the threatening or abusive behavior is from an outside caregiver employed by an agency you hired, report the person and demand a new caregiver be provided.

Use a Home Security Camera to Catch a Criminal in the Act

One of the best ways to provide evidence of a crime and the perpetrator is to install a wireless home security system in your residence. Some important features you want the system to have are multiple cameras, a built-in DVR for recording video footage, and a portable LCD monitor so you can view live video footage from various camera angles around your home. 

There are a number of affordable, high quality wireless home surveillance systems on the market for less than $600. Beware of any salespeople that try to upsell you to a more expensive system. 

Don’t Fall Victim to Crimes Against Senior Citizens

As we age, we become more and more vulnerable to heartless people looking to take advantage of our frailties. To reduce your risk of being victimized by a crime against senior citizens, follow the advice outlined above and enjoy your golden years the way you were meant to.