As people get older, their bodies start to deteriorate, their memories begin to fail, and taking care of oneself and staying safe become increasingly difficult. Because of this, a lot of people think that the elderly are more likely to become victims of crimes.
However, statistically, this isn’t entirely true. The rate of non-fatal violent crimes against the senior citizens is lower than it is for younger people. Older people are more likely to experience crimes against their property (e.g. theft, vandalism, scams, etc.), but the rates are also decreasing across the board.
Still, this doesn’t mean that there is no danger. You’re still more vulnerable as you get older, and it’s important to protect yourself against those who would hurt you, either physically or monetarily. Here are a few things you can do to keep from being a victim.
- Use Direct Deposit. One frequent crime against senior citizens is social security fraud. Someone may steal your check, perhaps even right out of your mailbox, and cash it themselves, leaving you without your monthly stipend. This is easily preventable, though. Set up direct deposit to put the money directly into your account, and ask to be alerted if there are any changes to your benefits, such as if someone tries to change where and how they’re delivered, without your permission.
- Switch up Your Routine. When you’re working full time, developing patterns is unavoidable. You go to work and come home and approximately the same time every day. After you retire, it’s easy to fall into new routines, which can be used against you. Do you have certain times when you’re always out of the house? Do you do your errands on the same day every week? This predictability makes it easy for someone to find a time to burgle your home without being detected, or even accost you on the way to the store, when they know you’re carrying cash. Change things up regularly, so that it’s not immediately obvious when you are and aren’t at home.
- Be Careful of Scammers. One type of criminal that does tend to target the elderly at a disproportionate rate is con artists. There are any number of scams designed to get your money, or worse yet, your personal information, to steal your identity. Never give out payment information in a phone call or e-mail. Your bank, your healthcare provider, and other trusted institutions will never contact you to ask for this information. If they want to contact you, they already have it on file.
- Be Skeptical on the Phone. There are a number of scams that involve someone calling you up and telling you a story. A popular one the last couple of years is pretending to be from the IRS and angrily insisting that you owe them back taxes, payable immediately. The real government does not operate this way. If you do owe them money, they’ll contact you by mail first and work with you to solve the problem. Others may claim to be offering some “necessary” service for extremely cheap, such as cleaning your air ducts or performing home repairs. Don’t hire anyone who cold calls you looking for work. If you need something done, ask around and do your research to make sure you get the best job for the best price.
These are just a few things to be careful of as a senior citizen, in trying to protect yourself from criminals or people with nefarious intent. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you need to be a victim. If you remain on your guard and stay aware of what’s going on around you, you can keep yourself safe and secure.