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Palos Verdes Peninsula News


Be Aware to Protect Yourself From Crimes

Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 6:58 pm

By Diane Robinson


Credit and debit card fraud is the No. 1 fear of older Americans. Concern over fraud supersedes that of terrorism, computer, health, and even personal safety.


According to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, people age 65 and older make up 40.3 million, or 13 percent of the total population. This “Boomer Generation” effect will continue for decades. By 2050, people age 65 and older are expected to comprise 20 percent of the total U.S. population — a population for the prime target of fraud.


Scam predators are on the phone, at your door, and online. Older Americans are criminally defrauded of $12.76 billion annually. A total that includes identity theft, IRS imposters, Ransomware, false health care bills, investment schemes, and even the infamous Nigerian Prince con. Think it can’t happen to you? Think again. These con artists are persistent, tactical, coordinated and trained.


Even if you are not personally a victim, these scams take a toll on families. A close friend of mine gave over $20,000 to a pair of men pretending to be her grandson, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer. The resulting investigation caused a rift in the family as aunts and uncles assumed that the grandson had orchestrated the con. In reality, the con artists simply responded as the first person the grandmother guessed had called.


Since the victim had transferred money via Western Union, there was no trail of evidence and thus no arrests could be made. That grandmother can no longer be trusted with her own checking account and her sense of the world has been shattered.


It can happen. It does happen.


Financial scams targeting seniors have become prevalent. Why? Because seniors with nest eggs, homes, excellent credit, less likely to report because of embarrassment, possible poor witnesses due to memory difficulties and not shredding sensitive information are attractive to con artists.


As a retired local law enforcement officer of 35 years, I know it’s possible to defend yourself without a fight, whether you are a child, man, woman or senior citizen. Be alert and aware in order to avoid financial frauds and scams.


Recognizing a scam is key to responding appropriately and protecting yourself.


If you suspect you’ve been the victim of a scam, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it with a trusted friend and law enforcement. You are not alone. Doing nothing can make it worse and increase your fear. Keep handy phone numbers and resources, including senior services (listed in book), local law enforcement and bank contacts.


Practice these three words daily. Be ALERT to surroundings and people, be AWARE to recognize potentially dangerous situations and AVOID them with confidence. Pass on and share your knowledge to friends, family and communities as part of crime prevention and a healthier, safer way of living.


Diane Robinson is a retired sergeant. For more information, visit dianerobinsonauthor.com. Posted in Peninsula Newspaper - Opinion, Guest Commentary on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 6:58 pm.

Diane Robinson: Author, Self-Defense Expert