Senior Citizens and Crime Prevention - National Crime Prevention by huangyinggok


									  Seniors and Crime
National Crime Prevention Council
      Goal of This Presentation

    To examine the various crimes
     against seniors and to look at
      what preventative measures
     can be taken to prevent them

    n Review current data and future projections
    n Review the demographics
    n Learn how seniors feel about crime
    n Examine the major crimes against seniors,
      including financial crimes, property
      crimes, violent crimes, and elder abuse
    n Learn what preventative measures seniors
      can take to stay safe

    What Do the
    Data Say?

             Seniors Today
    n Seniors are a large demographic group.
    n An estimated 37 million Americans are 65
      years old or older. That’s almost one in
      ten Americans.
    n This group constitutes 12 percent of the
      U.S. population.


                Older Americans
    n Persons 85 years old or older
    n An estimated five million Americans fall into
      this age group.
    n This group accounts for two percent of the
      U.S. population.
    n Persons 85 years old or older are the fastest-
      growing segment of seniors.


        More People Getting Older
    n Americans 65 years old or older are a fast-
      growing demographic group.
    n In 2011, the baby boom generation will begin
      to turn 65.
    n By 2030, it is estimated that there will be 72
      million seniors. This is equivalent to one in
      five Americans!


     More Foreign-Born Seniors
    n Immigration and differences in fertility rates
      have increased the number of minorities,
      including seniors.
    n 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

     More Seniors Are Non-English
         Language Dominant

    n 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

     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

      Predictions for Seniors
     n Seniors will live longer. Eventual
       declines in cognitive and physical
       functions could make them more
       vulnerable to victimization.
     n Seniors may become less in touch with
       innovations and less aware of their
     n Services will require more flexibility and

     Seniors and Crime

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

            Fear of Crime (continued)

     n Older Americans demonstrate a higher rate of
       fear of crime than any other age group, despite
       having the lowest victimization rates.
     n Knowledge of their vulnerabilities and reduced
       self-defense capacities makes them more

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

     Most Common Types of Crimes
            Against Seniors
       1.   Financial crimes
       2.   Property crimes
       3.   Violent crimes
       4.   Elder abuse

         Financial Crimes
     These crimes include
     nIdentity theft
     nHealthcare fraud

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

         Why Are Seniors Targets of
         Financial Crimes? (continued)
     Vulnerabilities based on lifestyle
     n 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.

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


     n   Fraud involves deceit in the commission of a
         financial crime.
     n   Those who commit fraud offer prizes, deals,
         opportunities, and bargains.
     n   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
                  Fraud (continued)
     Fraud can take many forms.
     n 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.

                  Fraud (continued)
     n 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.”

     n   The person takes or takes control of an asset
         without the victim’s knowledge or consent.
     n   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.

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

             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.
          How Identity Theft Begins
     n 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
       • 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
           Identity Theft (continued)
     The criminal uses information to make a
      purchase or obtain additional
      information about a person’s identity.
     n Social Security number
     n Bank account number
     n Credit card number
     n Driver’s license number

               Identity Theft (continued)
     n 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

              Discovering the Theft
     n Eventually the exploitation is discovered when
       the victim
       • Receives a bank statement with unknown
       • 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

          Reporting and Restoring
                the Identity
     n   The victim reports the identity theft to the
         police and to the major credit bureaus.
     n   The victim asks the credit bureaus to note the
         crime on his or her credit reports.
     n   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.

     Reporting and Restoring the
           Identity (continued)
     n The victim should also file a complaint
       through the Federal Trade Commission
       registry at
     n The victim needs to complete an affidavit
       of identity theft, available at’s identity theft section.
     n NCPC’s Guide for Consumers

      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

       Preventing Financial Crimes

     n 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.
     n 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.

     Preventing Financial Crimes

            n Keep track of everything you
              own that is a financial asset.
            n Monitor credit accounts, bank
              statements, stock and pension
              fund statements, properties you
              own, and similar assets.

         Preventing Financial Crimes
     n   Make sure you get all bills and expected checks
         on time.
     n   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.
     n   Use a mailbox with a lock on it. Deposit your
         outgoing mail in a United States Postal Service

        Preventing Financial Crime

     Don’t risk it, shred it.
     n 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.

       Preventing Financial Crimes

     Know about your credit.
     n Get a copy of your credit report at least
       once a year to make sure that information is
       accurate and complete.
     n Every person is entitled to a free copy of his
       or her credit report from each major credit
       bureau each year.
     n Consider ordering reports on a staggered
       basis throughout the year.

            Credit Bureaus
     The three major credit bureaus are
     n Equifax
     n Experian
     n Trans Union

             Order Credit Reports
     n Three ways to order a credit report
       • Online at; 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

     Property Crimes
     Against Seniors

                 Property Crimes
     Property crimes against seniors include
     n Burglary
     n Larceny
     n Auto theft
     n Petty theft

           Property Crimes (continued)
     n More than nine in ten crimes against the
       elderly are property crimes.

     n Property crimes, not violent crimes, represent
       the highest share of crimes against those 65
       years old or older.

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

            Preventing Auto Theft
     n Lock the doors. Roll up the windows. Stay
       alert and check the surroundings.
     n 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.
     n Check the car and the area around it before
       you get in or out of your car.

      Preventing Auto Theft (continued)
     n Consider installing tracking or security
       devices on your car.
     n 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.

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

     Preventing Theft While
       Shopping (continued)

          n Keep purses closed and held
            snugly near your body.
          n Keep all receipts separate from

        Preventing Property Crime
                 at Home
     n Set up timed lights and have a trusted
       neighbor pick up mail and newspapers while
       you are away.
     n Make sure your windows and house number
       are visible from the street. Illuminate
       doorways and walkways.
     n Trim shrubs.
     n Ask the police department to perform a
       security survey.

                      Violent Crimes
     n Seniors experience the lowest number of
       victimizations and lowest rates of
       victimizations when compared with the
       general population.
     n The violent victimization rate of seniors has
       declined by more than 22 percent since 2001.

              Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization 2003

          Violent Crimes (continued)

     n Seniors are victimized at an annual rate of 2.8
       per 1,000 persons.
     n Robbery disproportionately affects seniors. It
       accounts for a quarter of the violent crimes
       against seniors, but only one-eighth of the
       violent crimes experienced by persons ages
       12 to 64.
                      Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

         Preventing Violent Crimes
     n Remember that most violent crimes
       (except robbery and purse snatching) take
       place between people known to each
     n Walk assertively, but not aggressively, in
       public areas.
     n When going outside, go with a friend if

          Preventing Violent Crimes
     n Carry only the cash and/or credit cards that are
       immediately needed.
     n Don’t take shortcuts through deserted or dark
       areas. Stay where there are lights and people.
     n When traveling, check with hotel staff about
       areas that should be avoided.
     n If you’re confronted by a robber, hand over
       your money or valuables. They’re not worth
       your life.

                      Elder Abuse
     n Approximately 500,000 seniors are victims of
       domestic abuse each year.
     n Estimates are that only 16 percent of cases are
     n Family members are frequent offenders; adult
       children are responsible for 47.3 percent; other
       family members, 8.7 percent; spouses, 19.3
                 Source: National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, 1996

          Elder Abuse (continued)
     These types of crimes include
     n Physical abuse
     n Sexual abuse
     n Emotional or psychological abuse
     n Neglect
     n Abandonment
     n Financial or material exploitation
     n Self-neglect

         Possible Signs of Physical
             Abuse of Elders
     Although one sign might not indicate abuse,
      many of these are common.
     n Bruises, pressure marks, broken                       bones,
       abrasions, and burns

             Source: National Center on Elder Abuse,

     Possible Signs of Sexual Abuse of
     n Unexplained withdrawal from normal
       activities, a sudden change in alertness, and
       unusual depression
     n Bruises around the breasts or genitals

             Source: National Center for Elder Abuse,

     Possible Signs of Neglect of Elders

     More possible signs of elder abuse
     n Sudden changes in financial situations may be
       the result of exploitation.
     n Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor
       hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators
       of possible neglect.
             Source: National Center for Elder Abuse,

      How To Identify Emotional Abuse
                 of Elders

     ■ Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other
       uses of power and control by spouses is abuse.
     n Strained or tense relationships or frequent
       arguments between the caregiver and elderly
       person may indicate abuse.
             Source: National Center for Elder Abuse,

You don’t need absolute
 proof to report abuse.
Even if you just suspect
 abuse, call for help.

     What To Do About Elder Abuse

     n Keep in touch with older friends and gently
       question any signs of physical, financial, or
       emotional abuse that you suspect.
     n Don’t be surprised if a friend denies abuse;
       remain in touch, concerned, and observant.

     What To Do About Elder Abuse
     n 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.
     n 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.

                   Tips for Elders
     These are steps that will help you live healthier
     and more safely.
     n Take care of your health.
     n Seek professional help for problems
       involving drugs, alcohol, and depression,
       and urge family members to get help for these
     n Attend support groups for spouses and learn
       about domestic violence services.
            Tips for Elders (continued)
     n 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

             Source: National Center for Elder Abuse,

     Tips for Elders (continued)

              n Stay active in the community
                and connected with friends
                and family. This will
                decrease social isolation,
                which has been connected to
                elder abuse.
                    Source: National Center for Elder Abuse,

            Tips for Elders (continued)

     n 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.

             Source: National Center for Elder Abuse,

            Tips for Elders (continued)
     n Stay involved and know your neighbors.
     n Join a Neighborhood Watch organization.
     n 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.

        How To Report Elder Abuse
     n 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.

        How To Report Elder Abuse

     n 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

        How To Report Elder Abuse

     n You can reach the Eldercare Locator by
       telephone at 800-677-1116.
     n Specially trained operators will refer you to a
       local agency that can help. The Eldercare
       Locator is open Monday through Friday,
       9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

             Source: National Center for Elder Abuse,


     NCPC Online Resources

       Visit NCPC at for
           information on Elder Issues

        § Crime prevention brochures
        § Full-text publications online
        § Catalyst newsletter archives

     Other Online Resources
     n Statistics on Seniors: U.S. Census
       Bureau ( and Federal
       Interagency Forum on Aging Related
       Statistics (
     n Fear of Crime: Age Concern
     n Financial Crimes: Federal Trade
       Commission (

     Other Online Resources (continued)
     n   Elder Abuse: National Center on Elder Abuse
     n   Crime (General): National Association of
         TRIAD, Inc. (
     n   General Information on Seniors: AARP
         ( and the U.S. Administration on
         Aging (
     n   National Criminal Justice Reference Service

     The National Crime Prevention
             2345 Crystal Drive
                  Suite 500
            Arlington, VA 22202
             FAX 202-296-1356

     Presenter Contact Information


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