Senior Citizen Safety

As people grow older, their chance of being victims of crime decreases dramatically. However, with a lifetime of experience and the physical problems associated with aging, older Americans may feel fearful.

Though they might be on the lookout for physical attack and/or burglary, seniors are not as alert to frauds and con-games-their greatest crime threat. The following lists common-sense precautions to keep seniors safe.
Elderly Couple
Be Alert When Out & About
  • 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.
  • Go with friends or family, not alone.
  • If someone or something makes you uneasy, trust your instincts and leave.
  • Sit close to the driver or near the exit while riding the bus.
  • Use direct deposit for Social Security and other regular checks.
  • Whether you're a passenger or driver, keep car doors locked. Be particularly alert in parking lots and garages. Always park near an entrance.
Make Your Home Safe & Secure
  • Ask for photo identification from service or delivery people before letting them in. 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 monitoring for burglary, fire, and medical emergencies.
  • Don't hide keys in mailboxes and planters or under doormats. Instead, leave an extra set of keys with a neighbor or friend.
  • Install good locks on doors and windows. Use them!
Watch Out for Con Artists
  • Beware of individuals claiming to represent companies, consumer organizations, or government agencies that offer to recover lost money from fraudulent telemarketers for a fee.
  • 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, or a high-yield investment scheme.
  • 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.
  • 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 gift.
If you're suspicious, check it out with the police, the Better Business Bureau, or local consumer protection office. Call the National Consumers League Fraud Information Center at 800-876-7060.

Get Involved in the Community
  • Form a neighborhood watch to look out for each other and help the police.
  • Report any crime or suspicious activities to law enforcement.
  • Work to change conditions that hurt your neighborhood. Volunteer as a citizen patroller, tutor for children, office aide in the police or fire departments, mentor for teens, escort for individuals with disabilities, etc.