As a generation who likely lived through the Great Depression and believed a “penny saved is a penny earned,” senior citizens have become popular target for criminals. Even in this economy, many older Americans own their own home, have a pension and/or retirement funds and a good credit rating. Because many elderly adults are also often lonely, are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with current technology and may be physically or mentally vulnerable, they are more likely to be victims of fraud, including identity theft as well as telemarketing, mail and medical fraud.

Luckily, there are numerous government, community and non-profit organizations to help you learn how to protect yourself and your family members from becoming a victim of these types of crimes, including the USAA Education Foundation and the FBI.

Among the many precautions these organization recommend are:

Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements.
It is okay to hang up on a telemarketer, it is their job to keep talking until you either hang up or agree to whatever they are selling.
If you do not fully understand a bill, letter, statement or service agreement, do not sign it.
Never sign a blank check.
Do not pay cash in advance for any service.
Always request a receipt with the name and contact information of a business or tradeperson.
Register your phone number with the free National Do Not Call Registry at (888) 382-1222 or
Remove your mailing address and e-mail address from promotional lists by following the instructions on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website
Review your credit report and look for any fraudulent activity at least once a year.
Find out how to receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the major consumer reporting agencies by visiting or by calling (877) 322-8228.
Regularly review your bank, credit card account and other financial accounts for unexplained charges or withdrawals.
Never leave a purse unattended.
Always lock your home and car doors immediately upon entering and exiting, hide a key outside if you are afraid of locking yourself out.
Ask for more information if you feel pressured or do not understand an offer from a business or a request for donations from a charity. Legitimate businesses and charities will not have a problem compiling with your request.

Should you or someone who know believe you have been a victim of fraud, please write down every detail you can remember about the event or transaction as soon as possible and report the incident to the proper authorities immediately.

A record of the incident should include as many details as possible, such as:
What, where and when the incident occurred.

The name the criminal used, if he/she showed any identification and if related, what was the name of the organization the criminal claimed to represent.
How many times did the criminal contact or attempt to contact the target of the fraud as well as any details of each transaction or contact with the criminal.
All tangible records of any interaction, such as phone records, mail, emails, receipts, business cards, etc
If contact was made in person, provide a physical description.

Depending upon the type of crime or fraudulent incident, please report it to one or more of these authorities:

The local police or sheriff’s department.
The state attorney general.
Any banks or financial institutions for which your accounts may have been compromised.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at
Consumer reporting agencies:
Equifax | | (800) 685-1111
Experian | | (888) 397-3742
TransUnion | | (800) 888-4213

If you or a family member is no longer able to maintain an independent lifestyle, contact ElderLinkto discuss elder care services, senior care facilities and other in-home or assisted living options available throughout California. ElderLinkis committed to helping every person who calls to find customized, appropriate and cost effective elder care within California. Working with us will save time as well as help relieve anxiety and frustration during a stressful time.