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Seniors and Crime Prevention

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  1. Seniors and Crime Prevention National Crime Prevention Council 2007–2008

  2. Goal of This Presentation To examine the various crimes against seniors and to look at what preventative measures can be taken to prevent them National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  3. Objectives • Review current data and future projections • Review the demographics • Learn how seniors feel about crime • Examine the major crimes against seniors, including financial crimes, property crimes, violent crimes, and elder abuse • Learn what preventative measures seniors can take to stay safe National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  4. What Do the Data Say? National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  5. Seniors Today • Seniors are a large demographic group. • An estimated 37 million Americans are 65 years old or older. That’s almost one in ten Americans. • This group constitutes 12 percent of the U.S. population. Source: www.census.gov National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  6. Older Americans • Persons 85 years old or older • An estimated five million Americans fall into this age group. • This group accounts for two percent of the U.S. population. • Persons 85 years old or older are the fastest-growing segment of seniors. Source: www.census.gov National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  7. More People Getting Older • Americans 65 years old or older are a fast-growing demographic group. • In 2011, the baby boom generation will begin to turn 65. • By 2030, it is estimated that there will be 72 million seniors. This is equivalent to one in five Americans! Source: www.census.gov National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  8. More Foreign-Born Seniors • Immigration and differences in fertility rates have increased the number of minorities, including seniors. • The share of foreign-born elderly is growing. Regionally, that share is now • 35 percent in the West • 10 percent in the Midwest • 28 percent in the Northeast • 28 percent in the South Source: U.S. Census, Older Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2000 National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  9. More Seniors Are Non-English Language Dominant • Older populations are more diverse linguistically; a large percentage are non-native English speakers. Source: U.S. Census, Older Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2000 National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  10. Ethnic and Racial Distribution of Older Americans Projected distribution of the population group age 65 and older, by race and Hispanic origin, in 2003, 2030, and 2050 National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  11. Predictions for Seniors • Seniors will live longer. Eventual declines in cognitive and physical functions could make them more vulnerable to victimization. • Seniors may become less in touch with innovations and less aware of their vulnerabilities. • Services will require more flexibility and adaptation. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  12. Seniors and Crime National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  13. Fear of Crime • Two-thirds of seniors believe they will inevitably be victims. • Many seniors alter their lifestyles because they fear being victimized. • Almost half of those age 75 or older are afraid to leave their homes after dark. • One-third of seniors say fear of crime has contributed to a sense of loneliness and isolation. Source: Age Concern England (www.ageconcern.org.uk) National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  14. Fear of Crime (continued) • Older Americans demonstrate a higher rate of fear of crime than any other age group, despite having the lowest victimization rates. • Knowledge of their vulnerabilities and reduced self-defense capacities makes them more cautious. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  15. Fear of Crime (continued) Other reasons why crime prevention is important to seniors • Potential recovery from physical or financial injury is often limited. • Loss of money or physical faculties have more severe effects than on other age groups. • Media frequently portray the elderly as victims or, at least, as being vulnerable. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  16. Most Common Types of CrimesAgainst Seniors 1. Financial crimes 2. Property crimes 3. Violent crimes 4. Elder abuse National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  17. Financial Crimes These crimes include • Fraud • Scams • Identity theft • Healthcare fraud National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  18. Financial Crimes (continued) • Financial criminals generally seek to take cash, credit, credit rating, or other assets by deception. • These are very capable criminals. Many have excellent people skills and/or talent with computers and similar electronic gear. • Robbery involves a confrontation and the threat or use of force, but financial crimes often involve people who are pleasant and seemingly helpful. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  19. Why Are Seniors Targets of Financial Crimes? ■ Seniors often have accumulated resources. Many own their homes and have insurance, pension plans, savings, stocks and bonds, and similar assets that may not always be closely monitored. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  20. Why Are Seniors Targets of Financial Crimes? (continued) Vulnerabilities based on lifestyle • Many are accessible by telephone and mail, have time to listen, are too polite to hang up, keep assets readily available, have limited experience with investments, can no longer perform home repairs, and are deeply concerned with maintaining finances to last them through their lives. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  21. Why Are Seniors Targets of Financial Crimes? (continued) • Many are isolated by disability, fear of violence in the community, lack of peer friendships, or lack of transportation. • Many are trusting or complacent or forgetful of details and may be embarrassed to admit they were victims. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  22. Fraud • Fraud involves deceit in the commission of a financial crime. • Those who commit fraud offer prizes, deals, opportunities, and bargains. • They may advertise with a teaser (e.g., “Earn money working at home!”) or with a phone call announcing a “golden opportunity to invest.” Or they may develop personal relationships with, and then prey on, individuals they meet in various ways. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  23. Fraud (continued) Fraud can take many forms. • Examples include home repairs, auto repairs, new carpet or appliances at bargain rates, work-at-home schemes, weight loss and similar health-related programs, stock and related investments, overseas investments, overseas lottery prizes, amazing deals on commodities trades, and more. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  24. Fraud (continued) • Older people are major targets—they make up about 12 percent of the population, but 37 percent of telemarketing victims, according to one study. A telemarketing fraud artist told investigators, “It is an article of faith in this business to go after the old folks.” National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  25. Stealth • The person takes or takes control of an asset without the victim’s knowledge or consent. • Stealth-based financial crimes include identity theft; pretext theft (in which someone enters a home on some pretext, such as asking to use the bathroom, then takes property or personal information); computer hacking (illegally accessing information on a computer); and similar criminal activities. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  26. Stealth (continued) • Stealth-based crimes are usually difficult to detect unless the possible victim monitors small personal property and financial status and bills closely. • Stealth-based crimes may go unreported because the victim may be unsure of whether or when a theft occurred. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  27. Identity Theft A growing threat: more than 10 million Americans per year are victims of this crime; although seniors are currently a small percentage of that number. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  28. How Identity Theft Begins • There are many ways that a criminal can capture key information about an individual. • A “pre-approved” credit card mailing • A reply to a phony request to verify account information • A bill from a credit card company • A receipt with a name and card number • A list that a computer hacker has stolen and sold • Mail or bills from discarded trash • Stolen wallets or purses National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  29. Identity Theft (continued) The criminal uses information to make a purchase or obtain additional information about a person’s identity. • Social Security number • Bank account number • Credit card number • Driver’s license number National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  30. Identity Theft (continued) • The criminal then exploits the identity by • Piling up charges on an account • Taking money from a bank account • Opening a new account • Applying for a loan or mortgage • Declaring bankruptcy National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  31. Discovering the Theft • Eventually the exploitation is discovered when the victim • Receives a bank statement with unknown transactions • Finds newly created credit card accounts • Tries to apply for a loan and is denied • Is arrested for a crime committed by the thief when using the stolen identity National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  32. Reporting and Restoringthe Identity • The victim reports the identity theft to the police and to the major credit bureaus. • The victim asks the credit bureaus to note the crime on his or her credit reports. • Depending on the state, the victim may need to consult with a local victims’ assistance agency or an attorney for specific steps that can be helpful or necessary. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  33. Reporting and Restoring the Identity (continued) • The victim should also file a complaint through the Federal Trade Commission registry at www.ftc.gov. • The victim needs to complete an affidavit of identity theft, available at www.ftc.gov’s identity theft section. • NCPC’s Guide for Consumers National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  34. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  35. Preventing Financial Crimes If someone makes an offer that seems too good to be true, assume that it is too good to be true! Source: NCPC’s Telemarketing 101 National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  36. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  37. Preventing Financial Crimes (continued) • Demand details in writing via U.S. mail and save the envelope, which permits the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to help investigate any criminal acts. • Assume that anyone who “must have an answer immediately” is trying to get you to act before you think. Insist on time to investigate the offer on your own. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  38. Preventing Financial Crimes (continued) • Keep track of everything you own that is a financial asset. • Monitor credit accounts, bank statements, stock and pension fund statements, properties you own, and similar assets. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  39. Preventing Financial Crimes (continued) • Make sure you get all bills and expected checks on time. • Criminals have been known to steal mail to steal your identity. Call the company if a bill or check is late. If it was mailed on time, call your post office and report postal theft. • Use a mailbox with a lock on it. Deposit your outgoing mail in a United States Postal Service mailbox. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  40. Preventing Financial Crime (continued) Don’t risk it, shred it. • Shred any material that you are throwing out that identifies you in any way—bank statements, extra copies of records, bills, letters regarding financial matters, and similar documents. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  41. Preventing Financial Crimes (continued) Know about your credit. • Get a copy of your credit report at least once a year to make sure that information is accurate and complete. • Every person is entitled to a free copy of his or her credit report from each major credit bureau each year. • Consider ordering reports on a staggered basis throughout the year. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  42. Credit Bureaus The three major credit bureaus are • Equifaxwww.equifax.com • Experianwww.experian.com • Trans Unionwww.transunion.com National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  43. Order Credit Reports • Three ways to order a credit report • Online at www.ftc.gov; go to Free Annual Credit Report • Phone the FTC at 877-322-8228 • Mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281 National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  44. Property CrimesAgainst Seniors National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  45. Property Crimes Property crimes against seniors include • Burglary • Larceny • Auto theft • Petty theft National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  46. Property Crimes (continued) • More than nine in ten crimes against the elderly are property crimes. • Property crimes, not violent crimes, represent the highest share of crimes against those 65 years old or older. Source: www.neln.org National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  47. Property Crimes (continued) • Property crime is any crime when money or valuables are damaged or stolen from a person, home, or business without direct personal contact. • This includes burglary from a business or residence and auto theft. • Victims of property crimes suffer financial losses and may feel violated and continue to feel unsafe long after the crime. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  48. Preventing Auto Theft • Lock the doors. Roll up the windows. Stay alert and check the surroundings. • Securing your car, even if you are parked in your driveway or leaving the car for just a minute, can be enough to discourage many would-be auto thieves. • Check the car and the area around it before you get in or out of your car. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  49. Preventing Auto Theft (continued) • Consider installing tracking or security devices on your car. • Take part in car theft prevention programs that allow police officers to stop your car if it’s being driven during hours when you don’t normally drive. National Crime Prevention Council 2007

  50. Preventing Theft While Shopping • Empty wallets and purses beforehand of items you won’t need. • Keep packages out of sight in the car trunk. • Do not walk with your arms full of bundles that limit your line of sight or ability to respond. • Keep your wallet in a front pants pocket or inside your coat pocket. National Crime Prevention Council 2007