A partnership between local law enforcement, seniors and senior service providers
“Crime is a frightening problem,” Richmond County Sheriff Dougie Bryant told attendees at the March 24 Triad meeting. Senior citizens are often the target of crimes, “But you don’t have to feel helpless,” he said. He reviewed some recent scams that have made the news, outlined key tips to enhance personal safety as well as the safety of personal and financial information, and discussed some of the programs in place in Richmond County to improve safety and prevent crime.
Ways to Foil a Criminal
“You can help prevent crime if you know how criminals operate,” he said. Criminals look for the easiest opportunity; “You can spot opportunities before they do and remove them.”
Times have changed since many of us grew up, so remember: lock the door, have your keys. Think how you can protect yourself. Strength, speed and agility aren’t necessary, but you need to be alert, be cautious and be self-confident.
Keep your doors locked. Install deadbolt locks. He recommends one that doesn’t require a key from the inside, in case there’s a fire or other emergency. Don’t put tags on the keys you keep around the house; that makes it easy for a burglar. Put a peephole in the front door so you can see who’s there. Have good lighting; trim your bushes.
Protect your valuables. Keep money and securities in the bank; don’t keep a lot of cash at home. Have pension and Social Security checks deposited directly to your bank, so somebody can’t take it out of your mailbox.
Beware of phone tricks. Don’t give out any information at all over the phone. With caller ID, and you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer.” If you pick it up and don’t like what you hear, just hang up.” Don’t give any information to strangers. When you travel, organize a buddy system so there’s somebody to watch out for you.
Know Your Local Law Enforcement
Know your local law enforcement, so you’re comfortable calling. Let them know if something suspicious is going on – and they can let other people know.
Plan your route ahead of time – park close to the door if you can. Keep your cell phone with you, in case your vehicle breaks down. When you travel at night, find a well-lit route. When you get out of your car, “walk with a purpose” and pay attention to your surroundings. If somebody drops you off at your house, ask them to wait until you get in, and have your key ready.
Financial Safeguards; Handy-people
Shred all your old documents such as bank statements. If somebody pulls that out of your trash, “think of the wealth of information” they would have.
There are a lot of good people doing home repair jobs, but others just want to get money. Try to deal with people you know, and don’t make a hasty decision. Get a written estimate of what work will be done and what it will cost. If there is a problem with incomplete work, they can be charged with construction fraud – send a certified letter and give 15 days to complete or return your money. If it’s not done, you can charge them with construction fraud.
Review bank and other financial statements to make sure charges are legitimate.
Choose personal ID numbers and passwords wisely – make it easy for you to remember but hard for a thief to figure out: combination of upper case lower case, numbers and symbols.
Make sure anyone asking for your Social Security number needs it and know who you’re dealing with.