Police offer tips to keep seniors safe from crime - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Police offer tips to keep seniors safe from crime

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ATLANTA -

There are an estimated 37 million Americans who are 65 and older, and police say the fast-growing demographic is susceptible to all types of crime, including fraud.

Police say crimes against the elderly occur because of one main reason – seniors are trusting. They say it's why seniors have to educate themselves in the ways of the criminal world.

Joan Camp, 82, moved into a Peachtree City home more than 25 years ago. At that time, the area was considered rural.

"Of course, everything's is building up, you know. It's not out in the boonies like it used to be," said Camp.

She gets by with help from her daughter who constantly worries about her mother falling or hurting herself.

"And I worry too about people that may prey on her, people that may know that she's here alone, that type of thing," said Lisa Camp.

Sgt. Paul Cooper of the Atlanta Police Department says her fears are warranted. As the elderly population grows, so do the crimes against them. He says to keep from being a victim, you have to take precautions.

First, don't automatically trust people who come to your door.

"Anytime anybody comes to your home that you don't know, be hesitant to let them in. If they say they're from a company, you can either call the company and verify they sent a representative, or if you're not really comfortable with them, you can always call 911," said Cooper.

Camp has a senior helper who screens her calls, but she is not always available. Cooper says having a helper is a good idea because many seniors become victims of financial fraud over the telephone, usually by someone claiming to represent a bank.

"Don't give them any information until you've confirmed that it's actually the bank. And a bank will never call and ask for your account number. They gave it to you, they know what it is," said Cooper.

Cooper says get to know your neighbors. They can help bring in the mail or simply check on you. Although many elderly live alone, it will take the community to keep them safe.

"Anytime a situation starts moving too fast and they feel confused, they should stop it and call somebody," said Cooper.

Cooper says if you have been a victim of a crime, don't be embarrassed and report it right away. He says police can't investigate it if they don't know about it.

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