We’re protecting older people by providing a high-quality personal alarm service. We also provide older people’s families with the peace of mind that their loved ones have somebody to call for help in an emergency through this service.
We would like to go even further by giving older people an in-depth look at how they can avoid becoming a victim of crime. In this blog post, we will give plenty of hints and tips to help you avoid becoming a victim.
Protecting older people against criminals
In the modern world, there are so many ways in which you can become a victim of crime. Criminals have more platforms than ever before to use. Cyber criminals can use telephones and the internet to find their victims. Meanwhile, traditional criminals are still targeting your property, whether you are away from your home or inside it.
There are several different scams and criminal activities out there, which means protecting older people has become harder. However, you can fight back against these criminals, with help from our useful guide.
Unfortunately, older people are a common target. Each week there is news of an older person being scammed, either by online hackers, dodgy workmen or salesmen. Criminals are targeting older people on purpose because they are often more vulnerable.
Recently, there were three reported incidents in West Sussex, where two men are knocking at the homes of their victims, claiming to be dealing with a water leak in a neighbouring property. Once inside the house, money was stolen whilst the homeowners were being distracted.
The telephone has been the device of choice for criminals for many years. Each year, fraudsters will come up with new techniques and pose as different companies in order to trick people into giving over their private information.
The most common types of phone scams involve criminals pretending to be from your bank, internet provider or from the local authorities. For example, in a bank scam, the person on the other end of the line will try to convince you that there has been a security breach and that they need your account details to regain access. Of course, what this means is that you are giving your vital details to the criminals, who will then proceed to empty your bank account.
In examples where people pose as your internet provider, the criminals will explain that a virus of some kind has infected your PC. They will either try and get you to download some form of software to fix this, or they will try and gain remote access to your PC. The fraudsters will use this power to steal any personal information from your computer, including all your passwords to your online bank account, emails and shopping outlets.
Tips to avoid phone scams:
- Don’t Answer – Fraudsters commonly use private caller ID or unusual telephone numbers. If you’re unsure or suspicious of who is calling, then don’t answer your phone. In most cases, fraudsters won’t leave a message, they’ll move on to their next target.
- Never give bank details – Your actual bank would never call and ask you to share online banking details, your personal security number, PIN or to move any money to another account for security reasons. Halifax has an online guide to spotting a scam caller claiming to work for them.
- Don’t give access to your PC – Your internet provider would also never ring you to say that there’s a virus and that they need access to fix it. If you need to give access to your PC make sure that it’s somebody that can be trusted.
- Ask plenty of questions – Fraudsters don’t like it when you ask questions. You should ask as many questions as you can to try and catch them out. If they are claiming to be from a certain company, they should know everything about it. It’s highly likely that they will become agitated and hang-up.
Of course, as soon as you become suspicious the easiest thing to do is to end the call. On a mobile device, you will be able to block the number so that they cannot call you again. We advise that you share this number with your friends and neighbours so that they don’t become a victim. If you find you’re getting nuisance or suspicious calls on your landline there are blocking services, you can enrol on to prevent these coming through. Speak to your landline provider for more details.
The internet is great for older people. You can do all your shopping, talk with your friends, share photographs, pay your bills and manage your bank accounts all in one place. Sadly, with all the positives come a few negatives – and one of those is cybercrime.
Earlier this year, the Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that there were an estimated 3.6 million cases of fraud and two million misuse offences in a single year. Figures revealed by police showed an 8% rise in online offences in total.
Many criminal gangs have switched their focus from physical crime and are now targeting web users around the world. Criminals don’t even have to be in the same country in order to steal from you, which is even more worrying!
Three of the most common cybercrimes include:
- Phishing emails – These emails are designed to trick people into opening links and attachments. They are designed to look like emails sent from your bank or from other legitimate businesses. Once you open the link or attachment a malware virus will attack your PC, stealing all your data in the process. Things to look for include bad grammar, spelling mistakes, threats, dodgy links, non-personal introductions, fake graphics and strange sender email addresses.
- Hacking – The most well-known form of cybercrime. According to Verizon, there were 285 million data exposures in 2015 – that’s nine records exposed every second. Hacking is when an individual, or gang, breaks into a computer system that they are not authorised to use. Businesses and organisations are targeted as they hold personal data belonging to thousands, sometimes millions, of people. In some cases, hackers will gain access to your computer and demand payment for you to regain access. This is known as ransomware.
- Identity Theft – This is when criminals steal your personal information, such as your ID and debit card details, and then use it to buy things and gain access to more important documents. Fraudsters can access this information through phishing emails and hacking. They can then empty your bank accounts, take out loans, take over your existing accounts, take out multiple mobile phone contracts and obtain documents such as passports and driving licences. Often, they will also your ID to commit further crimes.
In cities and towns, it can be quite common to have people knocking on your front door. Commonly this can include salesmen, workmen and members of certain groups. The problem is that these situations can be dangerous and can lead to you being scammed.
Unless you are expecting somebody, the best thing to do would be to ignore them. If possible, take a peek out of your window or through a peephole on your door and see who is there. If you don’t recognise the person, or feel suspicious, then don’t answer.
If you do choose to answer the door, you should do the following:
- Only open your door on the chain.
- Ask for photographic ID.
- Ask plenty of questions.
- Don’t think twice about saying no and closing the door.
If the door knocking is constant, then please contact a member of your family or the Police. You can also readily pick up a ‘no sales or cold callers’ sticker to put on your door, which can at least let some door knockers know you won’t answer.
If a salesperson or workman comes to your door promoting their business, you should always be wary. If you do open the door, you should firstly follow the tips mentioned previously in this article.
The key thing to remember is that if you needed what they were offering, you would have sourced a company out already. Many builders, or other workmen, will knock on your door and try to convince you that some form of work needs doing to your home. They will say that they have noticed that one of the following needs repairs or work:
- Tree cutting
They will then proceed to give you a price for all the work and ask for the money upfront. In most cases, the “builders” will start the work but then never come back – leaving you with an unfinished project and a huge hole in your wallet.
The sad reality is that older people are the main targets. Salesmen will try their best to confuse you by using jargon associated with the industry, whilst putting unfair amounts of pressure on you to sign-up.
As with other general door knockers, the best thing to do is to close the door and end the conversation as soon as possible. If you feel frightened or suspicious please call the police, a loved one or press your personal alarm.
The key thing to remember is that if you needed what they were offering, you would have sourced a company out already.”
There are plenty of security options for you to install for your home. Installation of CCTV and a burglar alarm are a good place to start if you are concerned. Just having these visible on the exterior of your home will make criminals think twice about targeting your home.
There are also basic upgrades for your doors and windows. There are a whole range of add-ons available, including mortice locks, night-latches and door chains. You should also invest in some weather-proof padlocks for your gates and shed.
More advanced items which use modern technology can also be purchased. You can now buy digital door viewers which connect to a screen and allow you to see who is standing at your door. You can also install smart door locks, which use smartphones, key cards and tags rather than keys.
Tips to keep your home safe:
- Ensure all your windows and doors are locked when you leave the house.
- Keep all your keys out of sight and away from windows and your letterbox.
- Keep any ladders or tools locked away so that they can’t be used by burglars.
- Keep any gates locked and fences in a good condition.
- Install a personal alarm. Help is a click away if you’re suspicious of any activity.
If you hear or see something suspicious and feel unsafe, please call the Police immediately.
When you leave your home for a long period of time, for a holiday as an example, you should follow the tips already mentioned, but you should also take note of the following in order to reduce the chances of crime taking place:
- Ask a family member or neighbour to regularly visit your home, at different times, to open and close your curtains.
- Ask somebody to park their car on your drive so it looks like you’re home.
- Ask someone in your family to house sit.
- Use automatic timers on your lights.
- Avoid discussing your holiday online – You don’t know who might read this!
- Cancel any milk deliveries during this time. If they’re left stacked-up outside people will know that you are away.
- Take advantage of the Royal Mail Keep Safe service.
When you arrive at your holiday destination it is important to listen to what your travel rep is telling you about the resort. The common security fears for older people on holiday are ticket touts overselling excursions, unlicensed taxi drivers overcharging and using violence to get payment and thieves targeting your belongings.
Be cautious and don’t carry too much cash around with you, use the locked safe in your hotel room. Be careful when it comes to jewellery and cameras as well, these will make you a valuable target. It’s always a good idea when exploring new places or busy areas to have all your belongings in a bag that goes across the body – this way they can’t be snatched. There’re also the options of having a hidden purse that usually attaches around the waist under your clothing, so cash and cards are well out of sight.
Protecting older people at home
By reading the advice given in this blog article and taking the actions suggested it is possible for older people to avoid becoming a victim of crime. Remember, if you’re ever suspicious or concerned about something please contact the police immediately on 999. Please use the non-emergency police number, 101, if the situation isn’t urgent.
One of the best ways of protecting older people at home is to install a personal alarm system. For more information on purchasing one of our life-saving personal alarms please speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400.
Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Remember to use the discount code BLOG2018 when you order one of our personal alarm systems on a Monthly or Annual Plan to receive £10 off.