Crime prevention for seniors

Posted on March 4, 2019

By Irondequoit Police Department
Community Services Unit
Officer Jonathan Lawton

Recognizing Fraud: Elder fraud occurs when criminals pose themselves as business reps, government officials or other trusted individuals and try to peruse older adults into giving away money, property, or important personal information.

Signs to look for in fraud can be:

  • The person on the other line is rushing you – they are demanding for you to act quickly
  • They can promise “free”, but then you’re asked to pay a fee to unlock the prize
  • You won a prize for something you did not enter into
  • Requires a credit card number for  identification purposes

Types of Fraud & Warning Signs

  1. Telemarketing Fraud:
    • Selling phone product and services or falsely promising “free” or low-cost prizes (such as traveling packages) over the phone.
      • Warning Sign Example: you must immediately act for a one-time offer and aren’t allowed to think about it and call back later
  2. Mail Fraud:
    • Mailing a letter as part of an illegal operation, this is considered mail fraud.
      • Warning Sign Example: receiving unsolicited sweepstakes or lottery offers asking you to pay a fee to ente
  3. Internet Fraud:
    • Using the internet to purchase or sell illegal products and services
      • Warning Sign Example: you found unauthorized withdrawals from your bank account.
  4. Medical Fraud:
    • Using someone else’s health insurance information to receive “free” medical care, prescriptions, or products.
      • Warning Sign Example: you are offered free medical products in exchange for your Medicare number


  1. At Home:
    • Open the door only if you recognize the person
    • Use caller ID to screen incoming phone calls
    • Register your number with the National Do Not Call Registry at (888) 382-1222
  2. At the ATM:
    • Never store your personal Identification numbers in your purse or wallet
    • Monitor your bank activity frequently
    • Ute ATMs only in familiar, well-lit locations
    • When entering your PIN, shield the screen and keypad form onlookers
    • Never disclose your PIN number to anyone

Tips to Avoid Fraud:

  1. Do not buy from unfamiliar companies. Ask families and friends for their recommended companies
  2. Do not pay in advance for services, pay services only after they are delivered
  3. Never respond to an offer you don’t fully understand
  4. Never give our personal information over the telephone or e-mail to an unknown company or person

Home Safety:

  1. Refrain from hiding house keys outside
  2. Ask for photo ID from services or delivery people before letting them in
  3. Leave inside and outside lights on when going out at night
  4. Notify neighbors and police when going away on a trip

Vehicle Safety:

  1. Keep car doors locked at all times
  2. Do not open windows or doors for unknown individuals
  3. If you are being followed, drive to a safe public location for help, such as a police department or fire station.

Cyber Safety:

  1. Use passwords that are strong and keep them in a safe, secure place away from your computer
  2. Always log out of devices after use
  3. Use security software on all devices to protect against viruses and spyware

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