Thursday, December 9, 2010

Widowed, Divorced, and Elderly Women are Easy Targets for Crime at Home


Older women can easily become crime victims at home. A thief might pose as a salesman at the door, a telemarketer on the phone, or a visitor from a church. A thief could even be a trusted aid that works closely with the older person. Elderly female robbery victims don't always live alone, but may live with
a caregiver son or daughter.

Elderly Women at Home are Easy Targets for Crime

Women are viewed as caring, nurturing individuals. Elderly women are more likely to respond to pleas for help that are nothing more than email phishing scams. Scamming thieves use regular mail to hook victims too, or a thief may show up in person at the door. Thieves get into a home through bogus online websites. A thief may call on the phone and pose as government service agent or representative of any organization popular with elderly persons.

Caregivers are warned to closely monitor an elderly parent's affairs including, but not limited to: mail, email, bank accounts, retirement savings, and other financial affairs. Sons and daughters who are caregivers should realize that employed elderly service aids can't always be trusted in spite of background checks. Primary caregivers also need to be aware that robbery crimes increase during the holiday season.

Thieves Take Advantage of Old Age Problems

Staff writer Kathryn A. Walson from the website alerts family members in the article, "Take Steps to Guard Against Identity Theft" (2008) by stating, "Thieves often go after the elderly because many have more cash reserves than younger people, and the elderly may be more trusting when telemarketers call for information." And, "... thieves assume seniors may respond to e-mails, perhaps purporting to be from the Social Security Administration, seeking personal information."
One of the most common crimes against the elderly is the telephone thief who poses as family member needing money for an emergency. Such was the case with a 94 year-old woman in Dayton, Ohio, according to news in the online article, "Thieves Target Elderly Woman" (No author cited, August 2009). According to the news report, "... police said an elderly woman received a phone call who she thought was her grandson. The person on the other end said he was in a Canadian jail and needed thousands of dollars to get out."

Help an Aging Parent Avoid Financial Fraud and ID Theft

Elderly persons living alone may have trouble remembering to lock doors and windows when leaving the house for short periods of time, thus making them targets for home robbery. What can caregivers do to help an aging parent prevent getting robbed whether it's a home robbery, online stealing, or identity theft?
  • Post a note by the front door reminding the elderly person to lock windows and entry doors when leaving, even if it's for only a short period of time.
  • Ask frequently about recent phone calls or visitors. Thieves checking out a potential victim can pose as a home repair person, insurance or health agent, a distant relative, or church representative, just to name a few disguises.
  • Suggest buying a dog if the elderly parent is willing and is able to care for a pet. Even a small barking dog can alert the neighbors and is a good way to keep thieves away.
  • Urge an elderly parent to use direct deposit for Social Security payments and other benefits. Thieves look for patterns, such as when a person goes to the bank at the first of the month.
  • Warn elderly loved ones not to keep large sums of money in the home.
  • Recommend that jewelry, jewelry boxes, or other valuables not be left where someone peering through a window can easily see them.
  • Be aware of a holiday romance that may suggest a black widow scam. Know that romantic scam artists can also target an elderly person's family members.
  • Make certain all lights work properly (indoors and outside), and that all locks and alarms work.
  • Monitor prescription drugs, pharmacy medical records, and Medicare/insurance cards carried by an elderly parent that may contain the person's social security number.
  • Keep a list of all credit and bank card numbers, insurance information, and the telephone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards.
  • Scan important papers and keep copies in case of theft.
  • Warn elderly family members about computer scams and fraudulent activity that can rob them of their savings.
An older woman can easily be victimized by a telephone scam, by a dishonest employed aid, or by a black widow scam. Just as common, an elderly woman can become a victim of ID theft through computer social sites, unsecured shopping sites, and other online activity. Caregivers are wise to be on guard to protect elderly mothers and grandmothers from thieves and scam artists. Pay close attention and report any suspicious activity to the authorities before a loved one becomes a victim of crime.

Oct 26, 2009  By Mary King

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