Seniors And Crime Prevention


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Seniors And Crime Prevention

  1. 1. Seniors and Crime Prevention National Crime Prevention Council 2006
  2. 2. Objectives <ul><li>Review current data and future projections </li></ul><ul><li>Review the demographics </li></ul><ul><li>Learn how seniors feel about crime </li></ul><ul><li>Examine the major crimes against seniors including financial crimes, property crimes, violent crimes, and elder abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Learn what prevention measures seniors can take </li></ul>
  3. 3. What Does the Data Say?
  4. 4. Seniors Today <ul><li>Seniors are a large demographic group. </li></ul><ul><li>An estimated 35 millions Americans are age 65 years old or older. </li></ul><ul><li>This group constitutes 12 percent of the U.S. population. </li></ul><ul><li>Source: </li></ul>
  5. 5. Older Americans <ul><li>Persons 85 years of age or older </li></ul><ul><li>An estimated 4 million Americans fall into this age group. </li></ul><ul><li>This group accounts for 2 percent of the U.S. population. </li></ul><ul><li>Persons 85 years of age or older are the fastest-growing segment of seniors. </li></ul><ul><li>Source: </li></ul>
  6. 6. More People Getting Older <ul><li>Americans 65 or older are a fast-growing demographic group. </li></ul><ul><li>In 2011, the baby boom generation will begin to turn 65. </li></ul><ul><li>By 2030, it is estimated there will be 71 million seniors. </li></ul><ul><li>Source: </li></ul>
  7. 7. More Foreign-Born Seniors <ul><li>Immigration and differences in fertility rates have increased the number of minorities, including seniors. </li></ul><ul><li>The share of foreign-born elderly is growing. Regionally, that share is now </li></ul><ul><li>35 percent in the West </li></ul><ul><li>10 percent in the Midwest </li></ul><ul><li>28 percent in the Northeast </li></ul><ul><li>27 percent in the South </li></ul><ul><li>Source – U.S. Census, Older Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2000 </li></ul>
  8. 8. More Seniors are Non-English Language Dominant <ul><li>Older populations are more diverse linguistically; a large percentage are non-native English speakers. </li></ul><ul><li>Source – U.S. Census, Older Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2000 </li></ul>
  9. 9. Ethnic and Racial Distribution of Older Americans
  10. 10. Predictions for Seniors <ul><li>Seniors will live longer. Eventual declines in cognitive and physical functions could make them more vulnerable to victimization. </li></ul><ul><li>Seniors may become less in touch with innovations and less aware of their vulnerabilities. </li></ul><ul><li>Services will require more flexibility and adaptation. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Fear of Crime <ul><li>Two-thirds of seniors believe they will inevitably be victims. </li></ul><ul><li>Many seniors alter their lifestyles because they fear being victimized. </li></ul><ul><li>Almost half of those age 75 or older are afraid to leave their homes after dark. </li></ul><ul><li>20 percent of seniors say fear of crime has contributed to a sense of loneliness and isolation. </li></ul><ul><li>Source – Age Concern ( uk ) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Fear of Crime (continued) <ul><li>Older Americans demonstrate a higher rate of fear of crime than any other age group despite having the lowest victimization rates. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge of their vulnerabilities and reduced self-defense capacities makes them more cautious. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Fear of Crime <ul><li>Other reasons why… </li></ul><ul><li>Potential recovery from physical or financial injury is often limited. </li></ul><ul><li>Loss of money or physical faculties have more severe effects than on other age groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of the loss of their independence (may be a reason that many do not report victimization.) </li></ul><ul><li>Media frequently portray the elderly as victims or, at least, as being vulnerable. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Most Common Types of Crimes Against Seniors <ul><li>1. Financial crimes </li></ul><ul><li>2. Property crimes </li></ul><ul><li>3. Violent crimes </li></ul><ul><li>4. Elder abuse </li></ul>
  15. 15. Financial Crimes <ul><li>These crimes include </li></ul><ul><li>Fraud </li></ul><ul><li>Scams </li></ul><ul><li>Identity theft </li></ul><ul><li>Healthcare fraud </li></ul>
  16. 16. Financial Crimes (continued) <ul><li>Financial criminals generally seek to take cash, credit, credit rating, or other assets by deception. </li></ul><ul><li>These are very capable criminals. Many have excellent people skills and/or talent with computers and similar electronic gear. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Financial Crimes (continued) <ul><li>Robbery involves a confrontation and the threat or use of force, but financial crimes often involve people who are pleasant and seemingly helpful. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Why Are Seniors Targets of Financial Crimes? <ul><li>■ Seniors 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. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Why Are Seniors Targets of Financial Crimes? (continued) <ul><li>Vulnerabilities based on lifestyle </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Why Are Seniors Targets of Financial Crimes? (continued) <ul><li>Many are isolated by disability, fear of violence in the community, lack of peer friendships, or lack of transportation. </li></ul><ul><li>Many are trusting or complacent or forgetful of details and may be embarrassed to admit they were victims. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Fraud <ul><li>Fraud involves deceit in the commission of a financial crime. </li></ul><ul><li>Those who commit fraud offer prizes, deals, opportunities, bargains, and the like. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Fraud (continued) <ul><li>Fraud can take many forms. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Fraud (continued) <ul><li>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.” </li></ul>
  24. 24. Stealth <ul><li>The person takes or takes control of an asset without the victim’s knowledge or consent. </li></ul><ul><li>Stealth-based financial crimes include identity theft, pretext theft (in which someone enters a home on some pretext (such as “may I use your bathroom?”), then takes property or personal information; computer hacking (illegally accessing information on a computer); and similar criminal activity. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Stealth (continued) <ul><li>Stealth-based crimes are usually difficult to detect unless the possible victim monitors small personal property and financial status and bills closely. </li></ul><ul><li>Stealth-based crimes may go unreported because the victim may be unsure of whether or when a theft occurred. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Identity Theft <ul><li>A growing threat: </li></ul><ul><li>More than 9 million </li></ul><ul><li>Americans a year are </li></ul><ul><li>victims of this crime; although seniors are currently a small percentage of that number. </li></ul>
  27. 27. How Identity Theft Begins <ul><li>There are many ways that a criminal can capture key information about an individual– </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A “pre-approved” credit card mailing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A reply to a phony request to verify account information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A bill from a credit card company </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A receipt with a name and card number </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A list that a computer hacker has stolen and sold </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mail or bills from discarded trash </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stolen wallets or purses </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Identity Theft Continued <ul><li>The criminal uses information to make a </li></ul><ul><li>purchase or obtain further information about a person’s identity </li></ul><ul><li>Social Security number </li></ul><ul><li>Bank account number </li></ul><ul><li>Credit card number </li></ul><ul><li>Driver’s license number </li></ul>
  29. 29. Identity Theft Continued <ul><li>The criminal then exploits the identity by </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Piling up charges on an account </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Taking money from a bank account </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opening a new account </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Applying for a loan or mortgage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Declaring bankruptcy </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Discovering the Theft <ul><li>Eventually the exploitation is discovered when the victim </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Receives a bank statement with unknown transactions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finds newly created credit card accounts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tries to apply for a loan and is denied </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is arrested for a crime committed by the thief when using the stolen identity </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Reporting and Restoring the Identity <ul><li>The victim reports the identity theft to the police and to the major credit bureaus. </li></ul><ul><li>The victim asks the credit bureaus to note the crime on his or her credit reports. </li></ul><ul><li>Depending on the state, the victim may need to consult with a local victims’ assistance agency or an attorney for specific steps that may be helpful or necessary. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Reporting and Restoring the Identity (continued) <ul><li>The victim should also file a complaint through the Federal Trade Commission registry at . </li></ul><ul><li>The victim completes an affidavit of identity theft, available at’s identity theft section. </li></ul><ul><li>NCPC’s Guide for Consumers </li></ul>
  33. 34. Preventing Financial Crimes <ul><li>If someone makes an offer that seems too good to be true, assume that it is too good to be true! </li></ul><ul><li>NCPC’s Telemarketing 101 </li></ul>
  34. 36. Preventing Financial Crimes (continued) <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  35. 37. Preventing Financial Crimes (continued) <ul><li>Keep track of everything you own that is a financial asset. </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor credit accounts, bank statements, stock and pension fund statements, properties you own, and similar assets. </li></ul>
  36. 38. Preventing Financial Crimes (continued) <ul><li>Make sure you get all bills and expected checks on time. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Use a mailbox with a lock on it. Deposit your outgoing mail in a USPS mailbox. </li></ul>
  37. 39. Preventing Financial Crime (continued) <ul><li>Don’t risk it, shred it. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  38. 40. Preventing Financial Crimes (continued) <ul><li>Know about your credit. </li></ul><ul><li>Get a copy of your credit report at least once a year to make sure that information is accurate and complete. </li></ul><ul><li>Every person is entitled to a free copy of his or her credit report from each major credit bureau each year. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider ordering reports on a staggered basis throughout the year. </li></ul>
  39. 41. Credit Bureaus <ul><li>The three major credit bureaus are: </li></ul><ul><li>Equifax - </li></ul><ul><li>Experian - </li></ul><ul><li>Trans Union - </li></ul>
  40. 42. Order Credit Reports <ul><li>Three ways to order: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Online at Go to Free Annual Credit Report </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Phone at 877-322-8228 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta GA 30348-5281 </li></ul></ul>
  41. 43. Property Crimes <ul><li>Property crimes against seniors include </li></ul><ul><li>Burglary </li></ul><ul><li>Larceny </li></ul><ul><li>Auto theft </li></ul><ul><li>Petty theft </li></ul>
  42. 44. Property Crimes (continued) <ul><li>More than nine in ten crimes against the elderly are property crimes. </li></ul><ul><li>When compared with other age groups, persons age 65 or older were disproportionately victims of property crimes. </li></ul><ul><li>Property crimes, not violence, represent the highest share of crime against those 65 or older. </li></ul>
  43. 45. Property Crimes (continued) <ul><li>Property crime is any crime when money or valuables are damaged or stolen from a person, home, or business without direct personal contact. </li></ul><ul><li>This includes burglary from a business or residence and auto theft. </li></ul><ul><li>Victims of property crimes suffer financial losses and may feel violated and continue to feel unsafe long after the crime. </li></ul>
  44. 46. Preventing Auto Theft <ul><li>Lock the doors. Roll up the windows. Stay alert and check surroundings. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Check the car and the area around it before you get in or out of your car. </li></ul>
  45. 47. Preventing Auto Theft (continued) <ul><li>Consider installing tracking or security devices on your car. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  46. 48. Preventing Theft While Shopping <ul><li>Empty wallets and purses beforehand of items you won’t need. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep packages out of sight in the car trunk. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not walk with your arms full of bundles that limit your line of sight or ability to respond. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep your wallet in a front pants pocket or inside your coat pocket. </li></ul>
  47. 49. Preventing Theft While Shopping (continued) <ul><li>Keep purses closed and held snugly near your body. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep all receipts separate from purchases. </li></ul>
  48. 50. Preventing Property Crime at Home <ul><li>Set up timed lights and have a trusted neighbor pick up mail and newspapers while you are away. </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure your windows and house number are visible from the street. Illuminate doorways and walkways. </li></ul><ul><li>Trim shrubs. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask the police department to perform a security survey. </li></ul>
  49. 51. Violent Crimes <ul><li>Seniors experience the lowest number of victimizations and lowest rate in proportion to the population. </li></ul><ul><li>The violent victimization rate of seniors has declined over 22 percent since 2001. </li></ul><ul><li>Source- Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization 2003 </li></ul>
  50. 52. Violent Crimes (continued) <ul><li>Seniors are victimized at an annual rate of 2.7 per 1,000 persons. </li></ul><ul><li>Robbery disproportionately affects seniors. It accounts for a quarter of the violent crimes against seniors, but less than one-eighth of the violent crimes experienced by those ages 12 to 64. </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics </li></ul>
  51. 53. Preventing Violent Crimes <ul><li>Remember that most violent crimes (except robbery and purse snatching) take place between people known to each other. </li></ul><ul><li>Walk assertively, but not aggressively, in public areas. </li></ul><ul><li>When going outside, go with a friend if possible. </li></ul>
  52. 54. Preventing Violent Crimes (continued) <ul><li>Carry only the cash and/or credit cards that are immediately needed. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t take short-cuts through deserted or dark areas. Stay where there are lights and people. </li></ul><ul><li>When traveling, check with hotel staff about areas that should be avoided. </li></ul><ul><li>If you’re confronted by a robber, hand over your money or valuables. They’re not worth your life. </li></ul>
  53. 55. Elder Abuse <ul><li>Five million seniors are victims of domestic abuse each year. </li></ul><ul><li>Estimates are that only 16 percent of cases are reported. </li></ul><ul><li>Family members are frequent offenders; adult children are responsible for 36.7 percent; other family members, 10.8 percent; spouses, 12.6 percent. </li></ul><ul><li>Source - National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, 1996 </li></ul>
  54. 56. Elder Abuse (continued) <ul><li>These types of crimes include </li></ul><ul><li>Physical abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional or psychological abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Neglect </li></ul><ul><li>Abandonment </li></ul><ul><li>Financial or material exploitation </li></ul><ul><li>Self-neglect </li></ul>
  55. 57. Possible Signs of Physical Abuse of Elders <ul><li>Although one sign might not indicate abuse, many of these are common. </li></ul><ul><li>Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns </li></ul><ul><li>Source National Center for Elder Abuse, </li></ul>
  56. 58. Possible Signs of Sexual Abuse <ul><li>Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression </li></ul><ul><li>Bruises around the breasts or genitals </li></ul><ul><li>Source National Center for Elder Abuse, </li></ul>
  57. 59. How To Identify Neglect <ul><li>More possible signs of elder abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation. </li></ul><ul><li>Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect. </li></ul><ul><li>Source National Center for Elder Abuse, </li></ul>
  58. 60. How To Identify Emotional Abuse <ul><li>■ Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses is abuse. </li></ul><ul><li>Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person may indicate abuse. </li></ul><ul><li>Source National Center for Elder Abuse, </li></ul>
  59. 61. <ul><li>You don’t need absolute proof to report abuse. </li></ul><ul><li>Even if you just suspect abuse, call for help. </li></ul>
  60. 62. What To Do About Elder Abuse <ul><li>Keep in touch with older friends and gently question any signs of physical, financial, or emotional abuse that you suspect. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be surprised if a friend denies abuse; remain in touch, concerned, and observant. </li></ul>
  61. 63. What To Do About Elder Abuse (continued) <ul><li>If signs persist, call the local office on aging affairs or the local police department. If you are uncertain, check with someone at your senior center or another friend. </li></ul><ul><li>Start an education campaign for older people in your community. Share information, arrange talks by professionals in the field, and set up connections to helplines that can advise seniors on preventing and reporting abuse. </li></ul>
  62. 64. Tips for Elders <ul><li>These are steps that will help you live healthier </li></ul><ul><li>and more safely. </li></ul><ul><li>Take care of your health. </li></ul><ul><li>Seek professional help for problems involving drugs, alcohol, and depression, </li></ul><ul><li>and urge family members to get help for these problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Attend support groups for spouses and learn about domestic violence services. </li></ul>
  63. 65. Tips for Elders (continued) <ul><li>Plan for your own future. With a power of attorney or a living will, healthcare decisions can be addressed to avoid confusion and family problems. Seek independent advice from someone you trust before signing any documents. </li></ul><ul><li>Source – National Center for Elder Abuse, </li></ul>
  64. 66. Tips for Elders (continued) <ul><li>Stay active in the community and connected with friends and family. This will decrease social isolation, which has been connected to elder abuse. </li></ul><ul><li>Source – National Center for Elder Abuse, </li></ul>
  65. 67. Tips for Elders (continued) <ul><li>Know your rights. If you engage the services of a paid or family caregiver, you have the right to voice your preferences and concerns. If you live in a nursing home, call your long-term care ombudsman. The ombudsman is your advocate and has the power to intervene. </li></ul><ul><li>Source – National Center for Elder Abuse, </li></ul>
  66. 68. Tips for Elders (continued) <ul><li>Stay involved and know your neighbors. </li></ul><ul><li>Join a Neighborhood Watch organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Get involved in the TRIAD group in your area. TRIAD is a partnership between the chiefs of police, sheriffs, and older and retired leaders in a community. This group is committed to reducing victimization and enhancing police services to seniors. </li></ul>
  67. 69. How To Report Elder Abuse <ul><li>If you suspect that abuse has occurred or is occurring, please tell someone. Relay your concerns to the local adult protective services, long-term care ombudsman, or police. </li></ul>
  68. 70. How To Report Elder Abuse (continued) <ul><li>If you have been the victim of abuse, exploitation, or neglect, you are not alone. Many people care and can help. Please tell your doctor, a friend, or a family member you trust, or call the Eldercare Locator helpline immediately. </li></ul>
  69. 71. How To Report Elder Abuse (continued) <ul><li>You can reach the Eldercare Locator by telephone at 800-677-1116 . </li></ul><ul><li>Specially trained operators will refer you to a local agency that can help. The Eldercare Locator is open Monday through Friday, </li></ul><ul><li>9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. </li></ul><ul><li>Source – National Center for Elder Abuse, </li></ul>
  70. 72. NCPC Online Resources <ul><li>Visit NCPC at for information on Elderly Issues </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Crime prevention brochures </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Full-text publications online </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Catalyst newsletter archives </li></ul></ul></ul>
  71. 73. Other Online Resources <ul><li>Statistics on Seniors - Census ( ) and Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics ( ) </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of Crime - Age Concern ( ) </li></ul><ul><li>Financial Crimes - Federal Trade Commission ( ) </li></ul>
  72. 74. Other Online Resources (continued) <ul><li>Elder Abuse - National Center on Elder Abuse ( ) </li></ul><ul><li>Crime (General) - National Association of TRIAD, Inc. ( ) </li></ul><ul><li>General Information on Seniors - AARP and the U.S. Administration on Aging ( ) </li></ul><ul><li>National Criminal Justice Reference Service ( ) </li></ul>
  73. 75. National Crime Prevention Council <ul><li>1000 Connecticut Avenue, NW </li></ul><ul><li>Thirteenth Floor </li></ul><ul><li>Washington, DC 20036-5325 </li></ul><ul><li>202-466-6272 </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  74. 76. Presenter Contact Information