June is National Safety Month! It’s a great time to review the safety procedures your family uses and to pay special attention to safety considerations for the aging adults in your life, especially if they live alone. Criminal activity, such as theft or fraud, can happen in person, online, and even over the phone. Nightingale Homecare wants to help older adults remain safe at home, on the go, and online by sharing valuable crime prevention tips for seniors.
Home Crime Prevention Tips
Many older adults live alone and may become targets for thieves or home invaders who see seniors as nonthreatening. The following crime prevention tips for seniors can help reduce the risk at home:
- Install a home security system, if possible, to provide additional peace of mind and security for anyone living alone.
- Keep doors and windows closed and locked. If you don’t have deadbolt locks, have them installed.
- Close curtains at night so people cannot look into the windows.
- Use good lighting outdoors and consider using motion sensors that activate lights when movement is detected.
- Have a peephole installed into exterior doors so the resident can see who is at the door before opening it.
- Avoid opening the door if you do not recognize the person or are not expecting anyone. Salespeople and contractors may show up uninvited and may be pushy or try to gain access to the home. It’s best not to let anyone into the home unless you have asked them to come. If you need help, contact a neighbor, or call 911.
- Do not hide keys under rocks, in planters, under the door mat, or anywhere obvious outside.
- Do not buzz anyone into a building with multiple units unless you know who is at the door.
- Retrieve mail in a timely manner each day or use a P.O. box at the post office to prevent mail theft.
On the Go Crime Prevention Tips
It’s important to take precautions when going out to reduce the risk of theft. Some common ways to reduce theft risk when on the go include the following:
- Avoid carrying all of your identification cards or credit cards at one time. If your credit cards are stolen, it can take time to have them replaced. Having another credit card at home leaves you with a card you can use and reduces the number of cards that can be stolen.
- Carry your purse or bag close to your body, and do not leave it in a shopping cart. If the bag is too heavy to carry, consider leaving some items at home or securely in your trunk.
- Avoid carrying a lot of money.
- Be careful using a cell phone when out and about. Cell phones are useful for contacting family, friends, or for getting help in an emergency. If you don’t need your phone while you’re out, keep it stored out of sight. People often steal phones right out of peoples’ hands.
- Walk or travel with a friend in case of emergency. Wearing a whistle may help as an alarm system if needed.
- Keep car safety in mind too!
- Close doors and windows and keep them locked especially when parked or stopped at a red light.
- Lock valuables, such as money, purchases, or a cell phone in the trunk, or keep them out of sight. Thieves may be tempted by cars with visible valuables.
- Keep up with your car maintenance and repairs, and keep a full tank of gas to help avoid breakdowns.
- Do not pick up hitchhikers under any circumstances.
- Check the interior of your car, including the back seats, before getting into the vehicle. Someone could be hiding in the car waiting for you to return.
- If your car breaks down, pull over to the side of the road and raise your car’s hood to signal that you need help. Call your automotive service if you have one, a friend or relative, or wait for the police to arrive.
Online and Phone Crime Prevention Tips
Many scammers use phone calls or online devices to try to encourage people to give out their credit card number or personal information, which can then be used to steal money or commit identity theft. Older adults may be targeted more frequently because scammers believe seniors are kindhearted and aren’t very tech savvy. The following tips are helpful for staying safe on the phone and online:
- Telephone safety:
- Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry for your home and/or mobile phone to stop unwanted telemarketing calls.
- Hang up the phone if you don’t know who is calling. Telemarketers are very good at keeping people on the line until they convince them to buy something.
- Use a phone that displays the caller’s number. If you don’t know who is calling, don’t answer, and let the call go to voicemail. If they leave a message, you can see if it sounds like a legitimate call or not.
- Phone scams — Do not give out any personal information to someone who calls you unless you specifically know why they are contacting you. Many scammers pretend to be the IRS, a billing agency, a utility company, or a lottery agent. The caller may say there’s an emergency, that you’ve won money, or that you will lose a service to try to get you to provide a credit card number. These calls can be attempts to steal money or your personal information. It’s okay to hang up even if it feels rude! You can always call the company or service directly to see if they actually called you.
- Online safety:
- Use strong passwords with different combinations of letters, numbers, symbols, and upper and lowercase letters. Avoid using anything personally identifiable like your address, name, or birthdate. Use a unique password for each place you have a login.
- Use antivirus software on the computer to reduce risk.
- Watch for suspicious emails, especially those asking you to provide your login and password. Many scammers send emails with logos or headers that look like they’re coming from a real company to look convincing. It’s best to avoid clicking on links even if the email looks real. Instead, you can contact the company or service directly or login to your account to see if any action needs to be taken.
- Do not open email attachments unless you are expecting the file.
- Only accept friends on social media if you know who they are. Avoid clicking on messages, links, or videos, even if sent from friends, if they seem questionable.
- Be careful when online dating, and avoid giving out any personal information. Do not send money to anyone, and make sure to communicate through the dating site instead of using your own email or phone number.
Financial Protection Tips
With over 30 million people in the U.S. being victims of fraud each year, it’s essential to keep your finances secure.
- Watch your bank accounts and bills for unexpected withdrawals, charges, bounced checks, or missing checks.
- Use permanent ink when filling out checks to keep people from changing the information.
- Monitor your credit reports to watch for any suspicious accounts opened in your name.
- Use direct deposit for benefit checks to avoid theft at the mailbox.
What to Do If You Are the Victim of a Crime
If you or a loved one is the victim of a crime, theft, or scam, it’s important to take action immediately. Here are some important reminders:
- Call 911 if you are in danger or feel threatened.
- If you are attacked in public, make a lot of noise to try to draw attention to yourself so someone can help. You might even scare off the attacker!
- If an intruder gets into your home, call 911, and hide in a room that locks until help arrives.
- Call the police to report any crime against you, including fraud or scams.
- Call your bank or credit card company to cancel any cards that have been stolen or used fraudulently.
- Change your passwords or personal identification numbers (PINs) on any accounts that have been accessed by strangers.
- Report fraud to the Federal Trade Commission
At Nightingale Homecare, a leading caregiver agency in Glendale, AZ, we take the safety and wellbeing of older adults very seriously. Our compassionate caregivers are available to provide in-home care services, including personal care or nursing and therapy care, that enable aging adults to remain independent and safe in the comfort of home. We also offer our Paces Fall Prevention Program to help reduce fall risk for older adults. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 or online to learn more about crime prevention tips for seniors or about our Arizona caregiving services. Visit our Locations Served page to see all of the areas where we provide care.