Not a year goes by in which a reports circulate about retirees being tricked into giving away their financial resources by a dishonest person pretending to act on behalf of a fictitious agency. Or, even worse, legitimate companies occasionally hire salespeople willing to stretch the bounds of ethics and prey on unsuspecting elders with fantastic tales of unknown problems their product or service can solve – often at a steep cost. The fact of the matter, unfortunately, is that safety for senior citizens is a concern for the individuals themselves and their loved ones.
The city of Detroit encourages retirees to “BOSS” life around. Wherever you go, take care to “Be Observant, Smart, Safe” and you will have a leg up on criminals in search of targets. Thanks to a few simple precautions, you can protect yourself both in public and at home:
Out on the Town
- Be aware of your surroundings, whether you’re at the grocery store or driving through a sketchy part of town.
- Avoid carrying large sums of cash in your purse or wallet, and make sure to keep them close to your body – handbags close to the body for ladies and billfolds in the front pocket for men (a rubber band around the outside can provide an extra challenge for a pickpocket).
- Have a look around when you get into or out of a parked car – especially in underground structures – and always keep your doors locked when driving.
On the Homefront
- Look through the peephole when there’s someone at the door. If you don’t know the person, ask them to identify themselves and the purpose of their visit before opening it. Do not be afraid to call the police if they are unable to produce an ID badge or are unwilling to leave.
- Make sure all your locks are in good condition and install deadbolts, then work to secure windows that are difficult to pry open.
- Be suspicious if a caller is unable to produce a name when asked. If he were to say, “Who is this?” politely ask “Who are you looking for?” or “Who would you like to speak with?” In the event they can’t specifically identify someone – like “Mr. Harold Jones” instead of “the man of the house” – hang up.
- Refuse to give information out over the phone to strange callers. Though some will have legitimate-sounding titles, when the conversation turns to requests for your name, address, marital status, credit card number, etc. then end the call immediately.